FBC Media Scandal – Growing Questions For CNN’s John Defterios

FBC Media Scandal – Growing Questions For CNN’s John Defterios

5 Aug 2011

Defterios gives Facetime to FBC client, Malaysia's PM Najib Razak, on CNN

If CNN had acknowledged concerns about FBC Media’s spin operations and agreed to investigate the possible contamination of its programmes, because of its connections with that company’s President, John Defterios, criticism might have died down.

However, unlike the BBC and CNBC, who have both launched investigations and suspended FBC Media programmes, CNN has leapt to a fairly arrogant and unquestioning defence of its Business Presenter, who for years has combined that role with a senior position and substantial shareholding in the crooked PR/ Production company. 

The problem is that John Defterios’s programme guests were sometimes his own PR clients.  They had paid millions of dollars to his company in return for positive publicity and platforms in the global news media.  Indeed FBC boasted in its promotional material that it was the only PR firm who could uniquely “guarantee” access to “blue chip”, ” editorial shows” on stations such as CNN, CNBC and the BBC.  Anyone in the business knows that such guarantees could only be illegal. 

We are not a tradition PR firm because we can GUARANTEE results!

FBC’s clients are believed to have included the Government of Khazakhstan and the Government of Malaysia, whose leading members have been recently interviewed by Defterios a number of times on CNN.

Defterios interviews FBC Client the Khazakh PM Massimov at Davos in January. Whose idea was that?

So why are CNN refusing to review this embarrassing situation?  The BBC have stated that they “were not aware of some of the information” about FBC Media’s business model, which combines programme production with ‘strategic PR’ and have therefore suspended their programmes.  Likewise, CNBC have said that “having examined FBC’s business practices” it has withdrawn their World Business show indefinitely.

CNN, however, are defiantly denying that there is a case to answer.

CNN’s defence of John Defterios

In 2001 John Defterios became President of FBC Media and as late as last month the company’s website described him as a member of their Executive Committee in these terms:

“Defterios….. serves as President of the group.  In this capacity he oversees FBC’s factual programming and media services work” [FBC Website, July 25th 2011]

That media services work included signing up Abdul Taib Mahmud as a PR client in January 2011 and then proceeding to place him, Sarawak and the oil palm business in a positive light on shows aired across the world on global TV stations over subsequent months.  These media services are spelt out in the company’s power point presentations.

CNN seems not to be worried that they have been listed as one of FBC's guaranteed "media platforms" for their PR clients.


Yet CNN have stated to Sarawak Report that they are satisfied that all has been well with their shows, because they claim that Defterios signed up as a full-time employee, as opposed to a contracted Presenter, in March.  At this time, so the argument goes, Defterios severed all ties with FBC Media.

There are two problems with this argument.  The first is that legally there is no difference between a member of staff or a contract worker when it comes to declaring sponsorship interests.  The second is that there is no convincing evidence that Defterios did in fact sever his ties with FBC in March.  To the contrary he continued to be advertised on their website as the President of the group and overseer of all operations and he continued to be registered as a Director and Shareholder of both FBC Media and the parent FBC Group in the UK’s company register. 

Furthermore, his wife, Manuela Mirkos, remains as a full-time member of staff in the company.

CNN’s latest statement to Sarawak Report consisted of an astonishing decision to forward a three paragraph email from FBC yesterday, which was apparently designed to confirm that Defterios had severed relations in March and that therefore there were no further questions to answer.  It thus appears that, although we now know FBC Media is an outfit that has been operating illegally, CNN is prepared to rely on its word entirely in the matter!

The FBC statement, however, raises more questions than it answers:

“To Whom it may concern:   John Defterios resigned from FBC on 4th March 2011, he was subsequently removed from payroll in his capacity of President that month.  

Also as agreed he has been removed from the Board of FBC which will be reflected in the financial statements under the Companies Act when FBC files its latest financial company return which is due in October 2011.  

The website is undergoing changes and he has been removed as President and he was not the Managing Editor within FBC”.   Jess Panesar, Group Finance Director, FBC Media (4th August)

The immediate question raised by this email is why the removal from the Board has not been dated and when that further agreement was made?  There is also a glaring failure to mention anything about John Defterios’s substantial shareholding in FBC Media, which is the foundation for concerns about conflicts of interest over his role at CNN.  The fact remains that Defterios remained registered yesterday both as a Director and Shareholder of FBC Media and FBC Group.

Equally, the lame excuse about changes to the website being the explanation for it being pulled down the day journalists started asking questions a week ago cannot cover up for the fact that Defterios was still being described as the “President of the group overseeing factual programming and its media services work” on that very site just days ago on July 25th.

Defterios was criticised in the Malaysian online media for his tame promotional interview of PM Najib Razak in London, just days after pro-democracy demonstrator had been brutally suppressed

It would be unwise for CNN to deny the significance of this issue and its potential reflection on the integrity of its programming.  The most dramatic and important political event in Malaysia in the past month was the Bersih march for Free and Fair Elections, which galvanised tens of thousands onto the streets in KL and was matched by sympathy demonstrations in countries across the world.

Police attack peaceful demonstrators at the Bersih rally 9th July

Najib’s forces of law and order could have contained that march, but instead the peaceful demonstrators were brutally suppressed.  They were sprayed by water cannons laced with acid and beaten with batons. Nearly 2,000 were arrested and 6 of those were kept in jail for weeks.

The week after that march Najib came on a promotional tour to London, where he was greeted by outraged Malaysian protesters at every event. Under these circumstances CNN was the only TV news station who saw fit to conduct a full scale interview with Razak, focusing on the economic purpose of his visit.

The interviewer was John Defterios and at the time last month several Malaysian commentators were sickened by his soft handling of the Prime Minister and his treatment of the Bersih movement.  Now those same people are wondering if they have learnt why this was and whether the fact that Najib Razak is a RM28 million a year PR client of FBC Media could have affected the way he was promoted on CNN?

Not worth investigating?

Defterios in KL to report on Najib's pet economic project of developing Islamic brands - the PM gets a got slot in the film.

In Khazakhstan last autumn reporting on oil exploration. Another FBC Government client.


Click here for this link

Click here for the Najib Razak interview on CNN in July

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  • hot


    nice news for a change.

    thats how white hair and najib get the upper hand all by means of crooks and hooks.

    long live globalization … err …. apco.


  • orion han

    Its not his money to spend in the first place.

  • najibrazak

    Once again we seem to have tripped over our own "cleverness"So sorry if Malaysian taxpayers money has been wasted(I have to say that dont I?) Those who wonder why CNN are being so obstinate might ask themselves the old question: cui bono(who profits?)

  • mike

    i think peter parker can still save this. after all, cnn is not like cnbc and bbc

  • Hans Tan

    Can someone please let us know how journalists win the awards??

    Are awards green cards to present whatever they wants to? Can a news network wash their hands like Pontius Pilate?

  • Titan Sarawak

    Suggestion to Sarawak Report

    Los Angeles Times is an impartial reporting media. They exposes all the hanky-panky stuffs in the United States. Not long ago, they brought to light how one of the local cites (Bell City) manager, and other officials corroborated and reaped off the city's fund and they all end up in jail.

    As CNN is a US company, take CNN's explainations to Los Angeles Times, let Los Angeles Times investigates and judges.

    • Sarawak iReform

      I fully support your idea,my friend. How can I help? I live in LA.

  • Titan Sarawak


    I don't think you are a Sarawakian or a Malaysian or you have ever step into Sarawak's soil. You maybe just a paid staff of FBC or similar …just told to come here and defend TM. It doesn't work!

    I don't like your rival website – Sarawak Reports and therefore I don't go there. Likewise, if you don't like this website, you should stay away.

    The notion of "Innocent until proven guilty" doesn't apply in Malaysia because it is not democratic here.

    You know, politicians and public officials overseas don't sue when someone charged them for corruptions unless it is a serious character assassination.

    It is already an open secret that TM and family members got all the mega construction projects without an open tender.

    MACC took Teoh Beng Hock for just couple of thousand questionable dollars but TM is still at large.

    If "Innocent until proven guilty" should apply, should TM be suspended with pay pending investigation by MACC?

    • Wetsemenet

      'The notion of “Innocent until proven guilty” doesn’t apply in Malaysia because it is not democratic here.' – Titan Sarawak.

      Here's another example of the shallow level of analytical prowess Sarawak Report audience possess.

    • Wetsemenet

      'The notion of “Innocent until proven guilty” doesn’t apply in Malaysia because it is not democratic here.' – Titan Sarawak.

      Here's another example of the shallow level of analytical prowess Sarawak Report audience possess.

      'Los Angeles Times is an impartial reporting media.' – Titan Sarawak.

      How naïve are you?

      'A failure to do so, are implying that the so called well regulated institution of the West are nothing more than a window dressing up for a grab as low as a dime or more to do all the dirty bidding for the third world leaders.' – Dayak Iban Sarawak.

      And you just learnt about that just recently? I wish you 'woke up' earlier.

      Getting worked up so easily again.

      Yes. Do launch your commentary lynching…right about…now. Fanboys.

  • miri

    Standard in the US has slipped in recent years, but for a reputable global broadcaster CNN is showing a remarkable cavalier attitude with the mounting evidence of illegal programmes produced by FBC Media in its slots.

    No doubt, the US broadcasting watchdog would like to take a closer look.

  • Ahmadjek

    Good job. BN can't hide the truth all the time to all people.

  • Dayak Iban Sarawak

    Congratulation to Sarawak Report, we need these reporting badly to highlight the conspiracy made using the citizen (my) tax money to bring us down by these moronic administrators who are corrupted to their soul and brain.

    FBC, CNN, CNBC and BBC respectively should show a very clear conscience to the whole World that your dealing with PM Najib and CM Taib Mahmud is morally and illegally wrong in all means and intent. FBC was made to understand, that they were knowingly well, were in the breach of good journalism practice and ethic at the very beginning of their action by taking part in the corruption and lying to the whole World by providing a stained news tainted with lies and corruption to CNN, CNBC & BBC.

    We want the regulating bodies and authorities to practice what you preach to the whole World to be applied effectively and aggressively upon FBC, CNN,CNBC & BBC respectively without fail. A failure to do so, are implying that the so called well regulated institution of the West are nothing more than a window dressing up for a grab as low as a dime or more to do all the dirty bidding for the third world leaders. Hopefully, these are utterly wrong and nonsense or else it will be real big deal for all of you.

    • http://hotmail Anti-Taibetes


      The BBC has never reported on the war crimes of UK in Malaya (1 and Sarawak during

      It has not reported on as fact that it is a direct consequence of how the British forced Sabah and Sarawak into "Malaysia" under neo-colonial UMNO rule and this led to the massive stripping of the colonies wealth and impoverishment of the people and land.

      May Sarawak Report should also take an honest look on this angle?

  • Titan Sarawak

    Hi Wetsemenet,

    I kind of like you as you don't trade insults to anybody here. You were debating what was to be done to justify all our accusations.

    If you are a Sarawakian and you see what happen to the abuse of power here by someone to enrich oneself and family members you would definitely don't like it. Also with the tons of evidence presented in this website that have not been refuted. What's more, the Japan Times has already stated their accusation.

    It is a known fact in Sarawak that corruption is rampant here.

    If all men are disciplined, to make the world a better place, we should leave our master whenever we learned that he is an evil person.

    Making more money would make one a better person. I hope you would consider this simple statement for sake of humanity. Good luck.

    • Wetsemenet

      Titan Sarawak,

      Thanks. Yes I am well aware of the issues that have been in discussion on this site and elsewhere. These are of course very worrying indeed and need serious investigations. While investigations and the eventual deliberation in the law courts (should it arise) take place, we reasonable people should withhold any conclusions on this matter. Whether they be laypersons or even journalists and bloggers. The court of popular opinion MUST at all times be furnished with as much unbiased sources of information as possible. And this MUST include conclusions by trained and learned individuals, namely the judges, and which have gone through internationally recognized processes of deliberation. It doesn't take a full democracy to have the rule of law, as have been proven by the Sarawak opposition vis à vis NCR cases whereby the Government have on several occasions had to respect its rulings. This is an essential component of checks and balances. Why tear that down, especially when one feels that plenty of other things are broken?

      Our role is to analyze the situation in as unbiased a manner as possible.

      Thus, what worries me indeed is the fact that both this publication and its audience have gone far from that: their conclusions far exceed the veracity of the allegations and the capacity of the writers and their audiences to reasonably conclude. If things are bad enough, why make it worse? Jumping to conclusions will ensure the straightest path to destruction. Somebody once said, 'Assumption is mother of all f'ups.'

      Secondly, I may be scathing in my critique of Sarawak Report and some of its less savory fans here, but it's clear that I have never once endorse a political party or candidates whom I think you should vote for. I may defend the government's position from time to time as I think it's always important to have alternative viewpoints ESPECIALLY when the forum is dangerously one-sided in their promotion of discord.

      This is contrary to the habits of some commentators and even CB as well when they shamelessly endorse this politician or party over another. They have the right to relay messages which they think is important to relay to the public. But I think the bounds were overstepped when conclusions have been provided WITHOUT A THOUGHT TO DUE PROCESSES OF DELIBERATION. It's like they prefer to work in reverse: Get the info, jump to conclusions, let the harm be done first and THEN (if we need to) consult the learned judges.

      Do you feel that's the trend we want our country to head towards? If yes, then you can cast your lot with these people.

      In the end, it doesn't matter what CB writes or concludes. It's about whether the conclusions have been weighed in as careful a manner as possible.

      May it end peacefully.

      • http://hotmail Anti-Taibetes

        Wetsemenet we want a revolution and the heads of Taib and Najib and all their cronies.

        This will be mob justice and these gangsters asked for it!

        Hilter shot himself rather than be torn to pieces by the Russians who suffered at Stalingrad.

        I read that they came to Germany saw and conquered the German women for siring the likes of Hitler and his evil ones.

        This is not what is nice scenario. Taib deserves to be put in the IRON MAID and then drawn and quartered. Good German inventions.

  • aborium

    We have in our midst a commentator (not worth mentioning names)who shoots arrows in the dark in the hope of hitting a target, makes a lot of 'noise' signifying nothing, and who erroneously think he's 'above the rest of us' by his insipid comments.

    We are not taken in are we? Far from it. And he's complaining of the right to dissent. It's already a given, but when he dissented in the manner in which he did, it leaves one to wonder what his real intentions are?

    Shall we say to him the whole issue is about intentions?

    Or shall we say 'shod off' till he comes back with his shred of notary evidence or facts to produce at least a respectable and coherent counter point. If he comes close to anything SR has produced, then he's at liberty to come back and share his side of the story to us.

    Till then, go fish elsewhere or take a walk in the park. It's a sunny day today.

    • Cyperoid

      Ich denke, er ist einer der Ausländer, die von Taib beschäftigt

      Er weiß nicht einen Dreck um das Schicksal Ihres Landes und seiner Menschen.Er macht seine Arbeit für das verdammte Geld.

      Ignorieren, ihn!

      • aborium

        Think you're right. He works for the damned money!

        • najibrazak

          Taib work?! He steals for his living.

        • miri

          A freelance journalist in the UK charges £1 to £1.50 a word. Of course, he works for the money.

      • Wetsemenet

        Denkst was du willst. Keiner kann dein Mentalität wechseln nicht. Mein Position ist klar. Dein Konklusion ist ziemlich zu Simplistisch. Bitte, ein bisschen Tiefer meiner Kommentare analiziert.

        • aborium

          Hook, line and sinker!

          As you said 'it's all in the game'.

      • http://hotmail Anti-Taibetes


    • Wetsemenet

      Your utilization of the pronoun 'We' is very telling. Can't you stand up for yourself?

      • aborium

        'We' is a possessive pronoun, 'inclusive' in outlook as opposed to your the personal 'I' which is egoistic, self-centered, individualistic, and after 30 years at the helm, can be self-consuming.

        • http://hotmail Anti-Taibetes

          WO IST HITER

      • mike



  • Blunt Speaker

    CNN's John Defterios,the image of CNN is now in your hands! Either you tarnish the reputation of CNN or you uphold the credibility and its good image, is all up to you! Most importantly, it will portray your credibility and integrity as a person. Are you a reliable person who can be trusted as an individual with principle or a rotten, corrupt, lowdown fool who is easily enticed or overcome by greed?

  • Neutral

    I hope CNN still can be trusted, though it acts as US propaganda. We don't want to listen to tv channels that only work for money rather than reveal the truth. So, CNN please uphold yr image integrity otherwise we dump you in the toilet like tv1, tv2, tv3 and all msian govt media but paid by taxpayers.

  • Res Ipsa Loquitur

    kan dah saye kato, ni Wetsemenet die nie x org tanohair kito nie. jgnlah hiro die. I'm writing in Malay which google translate can't translate.

  • Blunt Speaker

    People in this world are so overcome with money that many fell into temptation and let greed have the upper hand. These people lose their own self-respect and integrity to the extent of resorting to devious and illgotten ways.


    well done! it just shows how malaysia and sarawak are run by people who only knows how to enrich themselves instead of properly running country and state for the peoples' benefit;

    Najib and Taib(such powerful and filthy rich corrupt monkeys) have been shown up just by ONE well -meaning woman and ONE Sarawak native who care more for the sarawak people than all the Malaysian/Sarawakian p[oliticians put together………

    what a laughing stock for all the world to see!!!

  • ak_malaysia in Saraw


  • Realistic

    Wetsemenet, It's no point talking about the court of law when the very person, in this case, the BN govt, entrusted to ensure the public at large, obey the rule of law, themselves break every law in this country. This govt should be changed first before we can ever think of getting an independent judiciary. But i must congratulate the judges in Sarawak, for being dedicated to their work, and not let pressure from the executive to cloud their judgement. You know, It's nice to write a long piece of opinion on what should be done(you read lots of them in the newspaper everyday)…but it remain just that….your opinion, when nothing is done by the govt to improve the situation. I dont need to wait for SR to present all these reports to know how corrupt CM Taib is. It's an open secret..

  • http://n/a Watch Dog





  • Emma Jones

    A direct attrocity by the Prime Minister's Office (Malaysia)

    can be viewed at http://roguesmalaysia.blogspot.com/

    Come on guys, have a heart. Read this link and help this suffering 1 million non political victims.

  • Realincalifornia

    Are you kidding me?! Sarawak is on a soapbox! Give me a break…

    Get your FACTS straight! Sarawak, do you have a personal vendetta?