4 Aug 2011

BBC Suspends All FBC Media Programmes Pending Enquiry

BBC Suspends All FBC Media Programmes Pending Enquiry

Trusted brand was running FBC shows while the company was being sponsored by Malaysian politicians.

Sarawak Report can confirm that the BBC appointed a team a week ago to examine FBC Media’s activities. 

They had been alerted to the PR/Production company’s activities and were able to look at its website and other publicity material before FBC withdrew it after being approached by journalists on Thursday.

Britain’s top broadcaster has told reporters that it is treating the matter with extreme seriousness and will be launching a full investigation into the company which boasted of its programmes as ‘broadcast platforms’, where it could positively feature its PR clients, including Najib Razak and Taib Mahmud.  

In a statement the BBC acknowledged that it had not been aware of a number of the facts brought to light in our Sarawak Report expose on the dodgy UK PR company that has received tens of millions of ringgit from the Malaysian taxpayer to conduct “Global Strategic Communications Campaigns” for some of BN’s leading figures:

BBC Statement
“The BBC is committed to the highest editorial standards and takes these issues seriously.
The BBC was not aware of some of the information provided and we will examine the claims made as a matter of urgency.
All independent TV companies who produce programmes for BBC World News have to sign strict agreements to ensure programmes meet the BBC’s editorial guidelines, including avoiding any conflict of interest.
We will be contacting FBC to seek further information.
As a precautionary step, we will not broadcast programmes made by FBC whilst we look into these claims”

We reported yesterday that another major broadcaster CNBC has also suspended its flagship show World Business, which was produced by FBC Media, indefinitely while they carry out their own enquiries.

Broadcaster responsibility

Both broadcasters are aware that if any breech of licencing regulations has been carried out by FBC programmes, then it will be ultimately themselves who will be held legally responsible and accountable to the authorities.  In the UK it is the Ofcom regulator who should be looking into the matter both for CNBC and BBC World, which as a commercial entity also comes under Ofcom’s licencing remit.

CNN is another of the many networks who have had links with FBC Media.  FBC Media’s President, who is also a registered Director and Shareholder of the company, John Defterios, has acted as an anchorman for many of it Business Programmes.

Sarawak Report has enquired whether CNN has any concerns whether such a clear conflict of interests could have affected their programming.  Publicity material for FBC’s PR clients offered CNN as one of the ‘broadcast platforms’ available for achieving positive ‘editorial news coverage’. 

How could FBC "guarantee" such outlets to their multi-million dollar clients like Taib Mahmud, who has been paying £5million a year?

Nevertheless, CNN has so far indicated that it is content that there has been no breech of ethics on their programming.  In reply they have told Sarawak Report:

“John Defterios became a full time employee with CNN in March, at which time he severed his affiliation with FBC.
 
There has never been a contract between CNN and FBC to carry  any editorial content on CNN, about Malaysia  or otherwise.
 
The only FBC content CNN has carried is FBC advertorial, clearly labelled, in commercial time”.

Sarawak Report has now challenged CNN to explain why it has not seen fit to launch an enquiry to make sure?   We also wonder why John Defterios was described as a member of the Executive Team of FBC on the company’s own website as late as July 25th, shortly before it was pulled down?

The website stated that Defterios “… serves as President of the group. In this capacity, he oversees FBC’s factual programming and media services work”.  Defterios also continues to registered as a Director and substantial Shareholder of FBC Group (the parent company) in the UK’s Companies House.

Still listed as a member of the Executive Team on July 25th

Both CNN and CNBC are broadcasters with US parent companies.  Although CNBC’s World Business show is not aired on their own American network, a number of broadcast and cable companies do carry the show, including several Public Broadcasting Stations. 

All broadcasters in the US will be aware of the fundamental ethical and legal guidelines that govern the principle of impartial broadcasting when it comes to news and documentary programmes.  The Federal body in charge of controlling broadcasting in the United States is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  Its rules on declaring sponsorship are clear and rigorous and it would appear that broadcasters of FBC programmes have broken them.

Broadcasters must make reasonable efforts to obtain information from their employees the information necessary to alert the audience to any payments or sponsorship of programming...

Sarawak Report asks CNN to assure us that it took such steps in the case of John Defterios during the years that he acted as President of FBC Media, while anchoring their business programmes and interviewing such personalities as Najib Razak of Malaysia, a client of FBC Media to the tune of several million dollars a year.

The British-based Ofcom rules, which in fact controls the Europe output of all these companies has even clearer and stricter rules about payment for news slots, as can be seen from its rules below.

Banned by Ofcom. Straight and simple.

As investigations continue, at the BBC and CNBC at least, over the coming weeks they will focus on the extent to which payments of millions of dollars by clients like PM Najib Razak, former PM Abdullah Badawi, Sime Darby Chief and former Deputy PM Musa Hitam and of course Taib Mahmud, may have affected the content of FBC made programmes broadcast on the world’s top TV news stations around the world.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Report will continue to reveal more on the dirty tricks campaigns carried out by Western companies hired by BN’s politicians to bad mouth political opponents and promote themselves – all at taxpayers’ expense.

  • Kathy Teo Shewring

    Thank you for your relentless investigative journalism that has brought this to light. Do I smell a Parliamentary Select Committee inquiry? Please do not let this one go. People are fed up with the shenanigans of the rich who seem able to get away with murder. I shall be keeping a close watch on this one. Will it be worth the readers' while to ask Ofcom to investigate this matter?

  • mike

    Wetsemenet @ peter parker, you can still save fbc media before its too late.

    don't let the same thing happen like what cnbc did.

    lol

  • Blunt Speaker

    GOOD FOR YOU CNBC & BBC! WE EXPECT OTHER CREDIBLE CHANNELS TO DO LIKEWISE IF NOT MORE! WE CANNOT CONDONE SATAN'S APPARATUS OPERATING IN THE FORM OF FBC MEDIA!

  • Angela

    Yes this is excellent work. Are you aware as to whether any of FBC shows have been aired in Australia?

  • Wetsemenet

    Here’s where you completely miss the point.

    You see, it’s inconsequential whether it not FBC goes bankrupt even. The Malaysian government can and will simply switch agencies. Governments around the world hire PR companies to brush up their images in the international media. How do you think Britain and America managed to look better than they do all this while?

    And then we have the lobbyists. They all operate in similar manner. Name me a media company that has no association with a pro-Israel lobby one way or another. I’m sure there are one or two somewhere, but fact is they’re too obscure to notice.

    If we have access to the full list of questionnaire (and why not, since we are ALL sick and tired of partial and piecemeal information?), then and only then can we get to the bottom of the question of whether the axing of FBC by CNBC/BBC was actually directly because of allegedly rampant corruption on the Malaysian government’s part, or simply due to business arrangements between FBC and CNBC/BBC, regardless of who FBC’s clients are. The timing or her operation that follows immediately in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal is definitely not coincidental.

    ‘Did CNBC [BBC] not examine FBC Media’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?’ – CB

    CB’s second ‘key question’ is telling in that it sounds as if the document is littered with more of these type of veiled threats which has nothing to do with whether or not the Malaysian government is their client in the first place.

    So, where is the full and notarized version of the questionnaire? The burden of proof, my friends is on Sarawak Report, if only to protect its questionable integrity.

    Thank you.

    Geddit? It’s all a game, guys. Don’t be tools.

    • aborium

      The issue isn't whether the Gov't can switch from one PR agency to the next or question its rights in hiring one. The issue is (i) whether the PR agency is promoting the interests of its clients against the 'rules of the game' set by Ofcom, the UK industry regulator pertaining to the unethical practice of checkbook journalism and (ii) whether its client – the Government – is aware of the PR agency's 'below board' business practice or a collusion between two parties with full knowledge of each other's role. What were the Terms of Reference in hiring the PR agency and for how much? Who's in control?

      Pending a full investigation and possible committee hearing on the matter in the UK, it certainly has a backlash effect on the country and if found to be the case, it could snowball into a political avalanche.

      It takes two to tango.

      • Wetsemenet

        The issue is ‘Who Gets Caught’. Sure, broadcasting corporations are bound by well-established regulations. Sure. However, are blogs (which is essentially what this portal is defined as, not a news portal) bound under the same strict regulations? Evidently, not. Integrity is open-sourced in this case and these free-information renegades really need not respect any applied to mainstream media. Now, say that even the latter despite all its obligations and legal restrictions can commit serious blunders (when caught), think of what transgressions bloggers such as Sarawak Report ‘reporters’/'volunteers’/'mercenaries’ can do in the absence of these governing laws?

        Aborium, it does take two to tango, but it's also up to the individual partner to take the right steps.

    • Jeff

      I don't agree completely that this is all a game. If it is then as we are all aware – they will be winners and losers.

  • v4dpeeps

    i think it is quite normal for govts to hire pr firms and lobbyists to support the country's position, such as when there was a smear campaign against malaysian palm oil by the soy bean producers in america in the 80/90's. however, when these parties are hired by the govt and paid by taxpayers dollars to support questionable/corrupt policies/actions (eg. gassing peaceful demonstrators etc), then that just stinks.

    • Wetsemenet

      'I think it is quite normal for govts to hire pr firms and lobbyists to support the country’s position, such as when there was a smear campaign against malaysian palm oil by the soy bean producers in america in the 80/90′s. however, when these parties are hired by the govt and paid by taxpayers dollars to support questionable/corrupt policies/actions (eg. gassing peaceful demonstrators etc), then that just stinks.'

      I agree. But, at the end of the day, not only are the demonstrations illegal, it was not entirely peaceful. You'd be crazy to think that no one will take advantage of a perfect storm to agitate the crowd. It'a a double-edged sword and you know it.

      If it was just purely between the government and the peaceful segments of the public, then it would have been much easier to handle. Notice how anarchists actually hijacked the anti-austerity protests in London not too long ago this year in March. You've seen the violence and arrests that ensued. Or have you forgotten?

      As you have mentioned, even back in the 80s Western media have been hired by the soya lobby group to tarnish the image of palm oil producing countries. The stigma has stuck to this day even as most of Europe and America is dependent on out palm oil to feed their welfare meal-ticket masses. Furthermore, any scientific journal would vouch that the palm tree, apart from being native to the tropics, also produce more oxygen than soya. Coming from a civilization who have managed to wipe out their virgin forest save for the icy Siberian landscape, it stinks of hypocrisy. If you really want to see how 5% of virgin forest cover looks like, Europe is the perfect place to start. Most of their forest except for the Schwarzwald are in fact replanted, or naturally-occurring secondary and tertiary rainforest. Now they tell us to help them breathe easier, but at the same time defame our country.

      It doesn't matter which leader we have of the day. Bottom line is, why listen to interested groups only looking out for their own welfare at the expense of our own sense of development and preservation? Given the conflicts of interest, we really should stop allowing them freely to condemn other countries including ours, especially when their own societies are crumbling as we speak.

      • Wetsemenet

        Apologies for I made a mistake in presenting the facts about remaining old-growth/virgin forests in Europe being perhaps only in the Schwarzwald.

        In fact, even the famed Black Forest that Western Europeans are so dearly proud of are secondary and tertiary growth forests. The only remaining virgin forest cover can only be found Eastwards, in Poland! (http://www.conservationmaven.com/frontpage/protecting-europes-last-old-growth-forests.html).

        Pot. Kettle. Black.

        Now, they want us to feed them, provide them with oxygen, and also become their punching bag scapegoat whipping boys for their pleasure.

        The real issue here, ladies and gents is hypocrisy.

        • http://n/a RAJA MANGGENG

          Moron Wetsemenet..We are NOT talking about fucking Europe but the very heart of Sarawak..all of our VIRGIN forest are gone,gone,gone forever.

          We are NOT interested about FORESTS in Europe as there are none.

          We all know that you are paid by us..PETER FUCKER ops..Parker to protect your corrupted master. That is NOT ethical at all and NOT blessed kind of work that you do.

          Pea brain moron like you do things just to make money and forget about your social responsibility to society.

          However, we bless you so that you can get back your senses and be alive normally like us all here.No wonder you are forever WET

  • Urban people

    There are still many people in rural Sarawak, Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia without electricity.

    These cheating and corrupted politicians of BN shall be judged by people and by the Almighty.

  • http://n/a RAJA MANGGENG

    Well done SR for painstaking investigative journalism.I hope that CNBC and BBC will wake up from Taib's evil money stolen from the Tax Payers and raping of the Virgin forests.

  • laughing

    Well done. Looks like BBC and CNBC still have ethics left in their organisation. Shame on you CNN … I will certainly not watch CNN news anymore unless they do something.

  • Wetsemenet

    The issue is 'Who Gets Caught'. Sure, broadcasting corporations are bound by well-established regulations. Sure. However, are blogs (which is essentially what this portal is defined as, not a news portal) bound under the same strict regulations? Evidently, not. Integrity is open-sourced in this case and these free-information renegades really need not respect any applied to mainstream media. Now, say that even the latter despite all its obligations and legal restrictions can commit serious blunders (when caught), think of what transgressions bloggers such as Sarawak Report 'reporters'/'volunteers'/'mercenaries' can do in the absence of these governing laws?

    The evidence, my friend is right in front of your very eyes.

  • Wetsemenet

    In the interest of fair discussions, Wetsemenet feels that one of his I.P. addresses has been blocked by Sarawak Report server. Believe it or not, I may be eventually blocked from entering comments through other I.P. addresses. In the event that I'm blocked completely from this site, I'd like you all to know that I certainly would love to rebut each and every pile of waste they serve up here. So if I am quiet for a moment, it may be because I'm not able to enter anything here.

    Don't worry, I shall try my darnedest to reasonably argue my points through any means I can. And whenever I am able to, know that it's not because they didn't try.

    Thanks for trying, Sarawak Report, now please go out and teach yourself some integrity of your own before attacking others. Will you restore my previous I.P. in the name of free and fair dissemination of information?

    • Wetmarket

      Wetsemenet is right that Western governments employ similar tactics for their purposes.

      Why would they ever stop at individuals?

      Wouldn't that be true Wetsemenet?

  • orang sarawak

    what a waste & very pity of you wetsemenet, you'r Deserve to be Blocked with all your idiot's statement! WE SARAWAKIAN/MALAYSIAN awake from the "politic show" & looking forwards for the BETTER CHANGE! Dumb your words to najib & taik mahmud!

  • mike

    BBC suspends ALL FBC media programmes pending enquiry

    can peter parker do anything about it? i don't think so.

    can he save fbc media from the bbc axe? let's watch and wait.

    after all, since cnbc does not listen to gim, i doubt bbc would do the same.

    Wetsemenet, your head must be hurting from all that thinking

    • Wetsemenet

      @Mike: I'm sure Sarawak Report is proud to have plagiarizing pirates such as your esteemed self on their bandwagon.

      • mike

        if it makes you sleep well at night

        • Wetsemenet

          Yawn.

      • http://www.google.com/ Latesha

        That’s cleared my thhoguts. Thanks for contributing.

  • mike

    BBC suspends ALL FBC media programmes pending enquiry

    the title says it all

    now can you stop this from happening again?

  • D'evil

    This FBC media is helping corrupt Najib and the his administration to suppress the freedom of its citizens and steal the wealth of the nation. This company is totally unethical and must be exposed. The actions of such corruption must also be exposed for the world to see.

  • Realistic

    That Wetsemenet thinks that he is so smart and very knowledgable. But when comes to simple matter, he cant even think straight..becos his mind is so focused on rebutting SR and forgot the obvious corrupt practice that our govt has done all these years..WE JUST DO NOT WANT THAT CORRUPT CM TAIB AND NAJIB EXPLOITING US AND DENUDING OUR FOREST TO ENRICH THEMSELVES AT THE EXPENSE OF THE RAKYAT…Comparing ourselves to Europe wont make any it any better cos the fact is OUR SECONDARY FOREST ARE GONE!!….Get it, Wetsemenet!

    • mike

      Sarawak Report 2 – 0 fbc media (bbc suspends fbc media)

      don't get diverted from the real result of SR's expose because of Wetsemenet

  • Realistic

    Get your messy brain straightened..and think rationally whether what CM Taib and PM Najib has done is not wrong

  • Yap

    I have notice the History channel too have broadcast several programme on Malaysia, especially on Mahathir. I would say the broadcast are paint a favourable view of Mahathir whilst we know that a lot of Malaysian problems originate from Mahathir's adminitration time. I wonder if there are similar connections…

  • http://n/a Watch Dog

    Put that aside,MoCS..come AUGUST 13t,,ALL must wear RED…RED SATURDAY..March for change..Change for the BETTER..FREE SARAWAK..UBAH LAH!!

    WEAR RED THIS SATURDAY..Come one and come ALL….march peacefully..NO VIOLENCE PLEASE,WE ARE SARAWAKIANS!!!

    Red..Red..Red..RED!!!

    UBAH LAH…

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