Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Saving Bernama TV

Relieved to read YB Shabery Cheek's assurance (Decision on troubled Bernama TV soon - Rakyat Post, 16 Dec) but the Minister has to decide NOT soon but very, very soon.

Shabery to the rescue

Some 180 of my fellow journalists there haven't been paid salaries since October. Shabery is their only hope now for a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. There are bills to pay and school books, uniforms and fees to worry about.

To be fair, BerTV isn't Shabery's baby. Never was. The people responsible for setting up Bernama TV Synergy in those sleepy days of 2008, which lost RM9 million in the first year alone, are long gone (one is Senator now). Bernama, the national news agency, is forced to carry their baby now i.e find money to pay salaries, operations costs, etc (and I was told that the national news agency's finances have dried up because of this).

I agree with Shabery: it's impractical to run a TV program in four languages. And it must find a new business model quickly. 

My 2sens on what the Minister should do:

1. Pay salaries (the wage bill is about RM800,000 a month only);
2. Dissolve Bernama TV Synergy (don't forget to pay hutang2 lama to those local production companies, some of which had gone bust because of Synergy's non-payment);
3. Hand over BerTV to Bernama lock, stock and barrel. Absorb all staff; excessive manpower can be deployed to beef up Bernama's dwindling news operations nationwide
4. Launch BerTV's 24-hour ENGLISH news. Focus on breaking news, analyses and opinions, video streaming, etc. 
5. Sell content to all local tv channels, free-to-air, satellite and internet-based (even with Awani, Astro would still buy if the news churned out by BerTV is compelling and it should be the case because by now the company would be the national tv-news agency); enter into strategic alliances at regional level 

People forget that before Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's 4th Floor came up with the oh-so-brilliant idea of letting a private company use Bernama's sacred name to run a commercial tv station, the national news agency was doing fine with its internal AV unit and mobile studio that had been in operations since the turn of the millenium.

I wrote on BerTV's latest sad state of affairs last week in Dr M's former press sec is new Bernama chief


  1. Anonymous2:55 pm

    They just keep on using our tax money to play corporate games. No wonder this country is going bankrupt.

    Tak malu ke?

    How many times ketuanan melayu want to fail without being responsible.

    This country is going to hell.

    Again, tak malu ke??????

  2. Anonymous4:07 pm

    Hello, Bru....seems to me that Singapore's Channel NewsAsia has already got this region sewn up.

    What does Bernama TV hope to achieve, apart from being another user of public funds?

  3. Anonymous6:11 pm

    CCTV has already taken up this idea and in the last decade has grown to rival some major cable channels. Just like our Multi Media Supper Corridor. Cyberjaya-_KLIA_-KLCC. The Koreans took it and applied it to the whole nation.

  4. Anonymous11:24 pm

    I foresee Bernama tv has a lot of potentials. You see, it already has this highly respected and recognizable brand in the industry. A little push in the right direction can do wonders.
    You mention Bernama to people, credibility and highly reliable info quickly come to their minds. Bernama right now desperately needs the right people at the right places. The right business model where everything is in sync with the fast changing environment.
    Bernama can acts as our ambassador to the world via air time on their satellites and paid TVs. This is Malaysian takes on everything in world affairs. If you want to know what Malaysian think of this and that just tune in on Bernama. So here I agree with Rocky that the content has got to be 100% English.
    Just take a look at RT(Russia Times. It has now become extremely popular around the world post Maidan uprising in Ukraine. Everyone now is anxious to know what Russian think and does. What Russian takes in almost everything. What President Putin says nowadays matters like never before. It now become one of the the most popular alternative news channel ever since.
    The right balance of new bloods and old guards of journo people is the recipe here and someone in the mould of Ahmad Izham Omar in charge of marketing and the business aspects. And these people then will have to sit together finding the right formula so that Bernama could be up and running again without relying too much on government grants.

  5. Anonymous11:36 pm

    CLOSE BERNAMA TV. From the start, it has been a problem. Not qualified people working there. RTM NEWS is already transmitting news on Teresterial FREE TO AIR transmission. WHY duplicate the service and service only on Satelite [ and now streaming ] Go back to basics and let BERNAMA be as it was. NO TV network. DONT WASTE TAXPAYERS MONEY AGAIN.BILLIONS of ringgit spent to buy and set up the Broadcasting equipment and Studios and even that the TECHNICAL VIDEO quality like SHIT over the air.

  6. Saudara Rocky
    Bernama Radio and TV was started by slumberjacK for naked promotion and 'jacking' of himself and his family. Beyond what is decent by the standards of journalism practiced by RTM.

    It was extreeme abuse of power and thus public funds. Now the project is screaming for more public money!

    RTM can take over Bernama TV. THE PROFESSIONAL and operational staff would expand RTM's operatiinal capacity.

    If RTM cannot absorb the management then let them go. They can fend for themselves. The media market is large and expanding. They should be able to land a job, if they had been doing real jobs while at Bernama TV.

    I have a questiin. Do we need to watch out for Alhijrah TV too?

  7. Anonymous7:07 pm

    Bru you have good executable ideas on this, I just hope a tycoon doesn't come with a white knight plan ....

  8. Mustapha Ong3:53 am

    This issue of Bernama TV is a very interesting topic ofor public discourse. However, I opined that Bernama TV should be closed down as this TV station should not be compared with ASTRO TV or even Alhijarah TV. Bernama TV has no audience or followers, but at least Alhijarah TV comes out with better programmes with multiple choices for viewers, not only Islamic programmes. Don't blame Bernama TV with RTM as the station has nothing to do with RTM. Bernama TV was set up by certain group of people with commercial interest, thinking that they could compete with ASTRO to make tons of money. Now those involved had burnt their fingers and brought shame and embarrassment to the government and country. No money to pay for staff salaries is indeed a shame and disgrace for Bernama TV management!

    This matter was also being explored by the late Tok Mat during his time as Minister, but there were strong objection by most of the members of the discussion panel involved in strategic entertainment projects, including myself in the panel. We had also discussed the privatisation of Bernama as a corporation based on GLC concept but was also rejected. We had also discussed the proposal for a sports channel but was also rejected. These two privatisation projects were rejected and never took off the ground. Luckily, otherwise it will be another's white elephant and the public will blame the BN government.

  9. Anonymous8:15 am

    BERNAMA's good name? It is mouth piece of UMNO and has little credibility. It has never done any serious pieces at all. No wonder some call it the Banana news agency. Shut it down and save money. Leave news to the private sector, even if it is Utusan!

  10. Thank you Tok Mustapha Ong,

    Those people who burnt their fingers should not expect compensation. In fact, they owe money to a lof of small producers (some had gone bust because they were not paid after having delivered programs to BTV) and must be made to pay.


  11. DeAR Goldtrex,

    Alhijrah TV? You heard anything?

    TV is super expensive to run. Some people with deep pockets had eaten humble pie. Shazaly Ramli (now Celcom boss) did very well for NTV7 those days, had powerful branding/marketing strategies. Bernama TV sorely needs such.

  12. Bro I know those culprits who had cheated some influential leaders with lots of empty promises but never delivered,. That's why some Malays are lousy business people and yet they are damn greedy and showing off for nothing in their heads! Now Bernama TV in shit and they expect the gomen to bail them out thus blame the leadership.

    I think DS Najib will not fall into their trap! However, having said that Azman Ujang also share my thoughts that the current situation is a bit shaky...and worst as many like the Eminent 25 have jumped into the wagon on the wrong track. I was told today that the E25 were played out as their Memo to PM was hijacked and leaked to the press. Now E25 sudah kena hentam left, right and centre by Perkasa & company. They should have started a restrictive dialogue with PM, DPM and AG closed door. Now the whole project is a total failure and all those E25 are losing respect from many other professionals and people in the street. Anyway, let's see what will happen in the next Parliament sitting in March 2015!

  13. Anonymous5:18 am

    I watched Bernama TV a few times in the past. My immediate impression was "going through the motions"... A very 1970s vibe: Stern-faced newsreaders reciting government statements and declarations. What to expect when Bernama news agency itself is synonymous with a narrowly pro-BN stance and shaky English...