Thursday 4 August 2011

CNBC axes show after S'wak Report exposes Taib link

Following the expose by whistleblower website Sarawak Report that Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud had paid RM15 million to an international public relations firm to clean up his image, international news broadcaster CNBC has axed its flagship business show World Business.

NONECNBC is one of many international news broadcasters which had aired TV news programmes produced by FBC Media Ltd, a UK-based PR company which is alleged to have been paid millions of ringgit by BN politicians to put a gloss on their image overseas.

“In light of serious questions raised last week, CNBC immediately initiated an examination of FBC (Media Ltd) and its business practices and has withdrawn the programme 'World Business' indefinitely,” Sarawak Report quoted CNBC vice president of marketing and communications Charlotte Westgate as saying.

Among Malaysian leaders that have been featured in World Business are Prime Minister Najib Razak, his predecessor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Taib Mahmud, claimed Sarawak Report.

The practice, if proven true, is against international broadcasting regulations.

"Allowing slots to be purchased in this way, deceiving millions of viewers who thought they were watching impartial programming, is a serious breach of broadcasting laws, for which broadcasters such as CNBC's parent company, the American broadcasting giant NBC, would be held ultimately responsible," said the portal in its latest report.

NONEAccording to the portal founded by journalist Clare Rewcastle Brown (right), who is the sister-in-law of former British premier Gordon Brown, the BBC - which also carries programmes by FBC have yet to respond to its enquiries.

"However it is believed they too have launched an immediate enquiry into the activities of FBC."

Besides CNBC and BBC, CNN has also carried a number of shows made by FBC, including a number of interviews with Najib by company president John Defterios, claimed Sarawak Report.

Despite CNBC's decision to axe its flagship business show, Sarawak Report said the broadcaster has yet to answer three key questions:
  • Did CNBC not notice how Malaysia was being constantly featured, showing nothing but praise for the BN government, despite widespread concerns about the country's corruption?
  • Did CNBC not examine FBC's business model, available on their website, which plainly shows how the production company doubled up as a PR company flogging slots on their shows to top dollar clients?
  • azlan Can CNBC make public the arrangement under which they commissioned the World Business programme from FBC? Evidence from FBC's previous annual reports indicates that CNBC was getting the show for free and leaving it to FBC to raise their income and profits from “sponsorship”.
Sarawak Report also announced that it will be releasing more from its extensive investigations into the corruption of the international media by BN politicians.

Apart from the RM15 million paid by Taib to FBC, the portal claimed that a recorded RM57.68 million had been paid out by the Prime Minister's Office to FBC from 2008 to 2009.

A further RM42 million was said to have been paid out by the PM's Office for further global strategic media campaigns last year.

Sarawak Report also questioned whether Malaysian taxpayers' money was being used to fund the “illegal activity” of buying puff-pieces on global TV news programmes.

"Najib, Taib and all the BN politicians who were purchasing slots on shows were doing so to shore up their own political positions and counter critics. Public money should not be spent on dirty party politics at the very least this money should have been coming out of BN's own pockets!"

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