Sri Pentas, Damansara – I was at Media Prima for an official visit this morning. The visit was more of a friendly get-to-know meeting between two major organizations. It began with warm welcoming speeches by two Media Prima big shots, Datuk Johan Jaaffar and Datuk Ahmad Talib.
After a short presentation from Media Prima and a fruitful Q & A session, we were brought to the TV3 and NTV7 news rooms. I was really surprised of how small the studios were. Even the editing rooms and partitioned compartments for each of its media personnel were all crammed up in one big room. Wonder how do the journalists cope with deadline pressures, to concentrate writing news pieces without silence nor privacy or even have their own space in the office? Now I understand why my uncle decided quit newscasting few years ago. Plus, he couldn’t tolerate the deadline pressures and working at odd hours behind all the glamor.
The presentation had enlightened me on the position of Media Prima in the Malaysian market. With its variegated aggressive media avenues, Media Prima conquers the most touchpoints percentage of the Malaysian consumers as compared with the rest of its competitors. It is an achievement that deserves a national recognition. I just hope that it is nothing like Sime Darby though.
Media and Mentality Gap Among The Malays
Some of the roles of media is to inform, to entertain and to educate its publics. With all of these roles and its pervasiveness in human lives, the existence of media and technology as an intermediary shapes a person’s mindset or mentality. For example, research has proven that TV can programme a child’s mind and also influence them to violence, obesity or sexual behaviors as they grow up.
Observing the media composition of Media Prima raises two questions; Firstly, why doesn’t Media Prima have any newspaper, TV nor radio station that are specified for the Indian and Singh communities. To be exact, those for Telegu, Hindi, Malayalam or Bengali speakers.
The second issue that concerns me is the symbiotic relationship between media and the Malay society.
The Malays are known to have been characterised as a backwarded society with a negative mentality. Tun Dr. Mahathir had been trying to change the Malays ever since from the beginning till the end of his premiership in 2003. During an UMNO General Assembly, he even admitted that he had failed to change the Malays. The issue of changing the Malays remains a vital concern of our leadership today. Change is strived for to ensure that the Malays are not left behind from its ethnic counterparts in the country because social or economic imbalances would lead to dissatisfaction and the fermentation of ethnic hostility.
Media is one of the salient institutions that could be strategically mobilized to change the Malays. Even if it could not alter the minds of the previous or current generation, we could a least utilize it to develop the newer breed of Malays for a better future.
In the case of media agencies that are owned by Media Prima, let us narrow down to just the TV channels and newspapers that are the choices of the Malay public compared to the others. Media Prima’s TV3 is the most favored channel by the Malay community and channel 9 is more watched by the traditional and Islamic-cultured Malays. The Malay language newspapers like Berita Harian and Harian Metro are read by the Malay community. The NST newspaper is also read by the Malays but only by english-speakng Malay readers.
TV3 presents a lot of dramas and soap operas in its programme schedule. In fact, TV3 is famous for its addictive cerekarama during its peak hours. It is undeniable that the Malay audience love dramas. However, do we really want to keep on teaching our newer generation that it is common for our society to be embodied with greed, hasad and immorality? Rather than enforcing these descriptions of Malays in dramas, it is better for drama directors to select scripts that are more based on Islamic values. Iranian movies are excellent examples of storylines that are based on Islamic philosophies which can educate its viewers and are reflective with deep thoughts on humanity. There are also Indonesian movies which have fared well in conveying Islamic messages such as “Ayat-ayat Cinta”.
Besides movies, an educational programme can come in various formats with positive objectives of moulding our young minds.
Our younger generation attain knowledge from two means of the media; the traditional media (TV, radio, magazines, newspaper) and the new media ( smartphones, internet). There are certain types of youngsters who opt for the traditional or the new media when it comes to finding information or seeking entertainment. Their preferrences may depend on income groups which means their capability of accessing information would differ. This would inadvertantly affect the type of information and the way their minds are shaped.
If this problem is not addressed, then we will not only face problems of balancing our social economic gap but we might also face an expanding gap in social mentality. There are certain groups in the society which prefer to attain information from the internet and there are people who still opt for the traditional media. We must understand the differences of the quality of information that are provided in the new and the traditional media.
If the traditional media keeps on fulfilling the demands of its audience and readers at their peril, there is a possibility that their consumers would digress because of the lame contents that are provided by the traditional media.
Media Prima and MalaysiaKini
Dato’ Ahmad Talib and Dato’ Johan Jaffar could do so much more to achieve the level of the international media mogul, Rupert Murdoch. Media Prima should be on alert because Premesh Chandran, the CEO of MalaysiaKini has progressively developed the cybermedia from a humble beginning since 1999. In 10 years, MalaysiaKini has expanded by providing services for online TV, publishing and even researching! Media Prima should conceive a comprehensive media business plan which is not only limited to reaping profits but also tailor-made to educating the society and explore more avenues of reaching societies globally.
The direction of Media Prima in supporting the 1Malaysia concept is also another question. Even though there are certain groups who consider the concept as being rhetorical, its flavour of harmonizing our multiracial society is still significant in maintaining peace in our colourful country. Think again, is there any one programme on TV3 that cultivates unity in diversity by featuring all Malaysian ethnic representatives in the show? I doubt so.