Media: To regulate or not (Part 2)

(You can read Part 1 here.)

In Part 2, we talk about the pro-regulation argument for media. Media is this sense covers everything from ads to maintream papers to radio and television and of course, the Internet.

Do we let society regulate itself, and does it actually regulate?

This is the argumentative basis when we talk about letting media run amok in our country and whether we should regulate it.

A totally unregulated media would mean total non-censorship of all content from advertising all the way to what we find on the Internet. While we can definitely argue that the Malaysian Commission on Multimedia and Communication (MCMC) is regulating access to internet websites, the question would be is it necessary?

In this sense, Zaidel Baharuddin’s argument is sound. Do we agree with the censorship of child pornography? Yes. Do we agree with the censorship of terrorist propaganda? Yes.

At the same time, do we agree that regulations can also bring about equal access to the media?

If we talk about free media in this day and age, we are talking about total unregulated spending and access – let us take the USA as an example, since it is a bastion of media freedom.

The problem is that it isn’t. There is nothing free about the United States media in a sense that those with access to capital (money) have a larger ability to voice out their views and drown out minority opinion.

Now take that context and put it in the Malaysian scenario. It would mean a total lack of access to minorities – including the Orang Asal community, religious minorities, heck, even the LGBT.

Could regulation in fact solve this issue by guaranteeing equal access to all parties? Yes, it could. And in fact, there are nations with regulations that are in place to support minority publications and media with funding.

That would be Norway, where the government steps in to allow better access to capital for media startups.

Thus, again, it is in fact regulating media in terms of finances – something we could probably have used for The Malaysian Insider, even.

The problem with Malaysia is not an issue of regulation, but an issue of who regulates. This is the main gist when it comes to why there is continued calls for regulations to be removed.

The truth is, that regulators in Malaysia have been labeled to be biased and that perception is widespread (and not exactly false).

With that in mind, how can we say regulation is unnecessary when society itself has shown a tendency for violence when it comes to respecting the freedom of opinion.

Let us take a very recent case; the Deputy Chief Minister of Penang – a devout Hindu – labels an Islamic preacher who made fun of his deities and the practice of vegetarianism as “Satan”.

Instead of countering his point of view like mature societies would, some zealot for the preacher’s love decided it was better to just firebomb the politician’s office.

Add that to the number of rape threats a woman gets for speaking out (read: Siti Kasim) and even Datuk Farida Ariffin, and continue wondering if we truly are a society where the freedom of expression and media should even be considered here.


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