FBC Story Rolls On In International Media

FBC Story Rolls On In International Media

29 Aug 2011

New investigation into film maker that took millions from Malaysia

By Ian Burrell

One of America’s most prestigious magazines, the 154-year-old The Atlantic, has become the latest high-profile news organisation to launch an investigation into its relationship with a media company that was allocated millions of pounds by the Malaysian government.

The Washington-based magazine and website is “reviewing all transactions” it had with FBC, a media company that also produced television programmes for the BBC and the business channel CNBC. The Independent revealed this month that FBC had been hired by Malaysia in a “global strategic communications campaign”.

The FBC programmes broadcast on BBC World News dealt with contentious issues including Malaysia’s treatment of its indigenous peoples, its management of rainforests and its controversial palm-oil industry. The BBC said: “FBC has now admitted to the BBC that it has worked for the Malaysian government. That information was not disclosed to the BBC as we believe it should have been when the BBC contracted programming from FBC. Given this, the BBC has decided to transmit no more programming from FBC while it reviews its relationship with the company.”

The Atlantic has ordered a “full review” into its own relationship with FBC. Justin Smith, president of Atlantic Media Co, publisher of the magazine, has resigned from the board of FBC. FBC’s founder Alan Friedman, a long-term friend of Mr Smith’s, blogged for The Atlantic from this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos. Mr Friedman also encouraged The Atlantic to host an event in March in which the Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak, was interviewed by a correspondent of The Atlantic.

Natalie Raabe, director of communications for The Atlantic, said Mr Smith’s role at FBC was unpaid and “largely nominal”. She said that the magazine was “reviewing all interactions it has had with FBC and its chairman,” including blogs Mr Friedman wrote about Indonesia. “We have found several instances in which Friedman wrote positively about the Indonesian government and its representatives. Our internal process will seek to determine whether Friedman was representing Indonesia at the time he wrote for TheAtlantic.com.”

She said the company was also examining blog comments made by Mr Friedman on Malaysia and had now attached an online reference to inform readers that he was working for the Malaysian government “at or around the time he wrote them”.

FBC also made a half-hourly weekly programme for CNBC, part of the American NBC network. Many of its episodes featured Malaysia. CNBC has withdrawn the programme “indefinitely” and “immediately initiated an examination of FBC and its business practices”. Since publication of The Independent’s investigation, the newspaper has been contacted by numerous correspondents based in Kuala Lumpur, who complained that the broadcasters should have taken action earlier.

One senior international journalist with a decade of experience in Malaysia, said FBC’s relationship with the Malaysian government was “common knowledge among the press corps in KL”. He said: “The real scandal is the failure by BBC and CNBC to police the outsourcing of their programmes. They need to answer some hard questions.”

The BBC said it had “acted swiftly to suspend the broadcasting from FBC” and pointed out that “all independent TV companies who produce programmes for BBC World News have to sign strict agreements”.

A former correspondent for a prominent US magazine said that correspondents became accustomed to seeing FBC granted access to “notoriously press-shy” senior political and business figures who would not speak to other sections of the media. “Knowing FBC and their modus operandi, it was pretty clear how it happened,” he said. The Independent has established that FBC also hired the Washington-based American lobbying company APCO Worldwide for the purpose of “raising awareness of the importance of policies in Malaysia that are pro-business and pro-investment as well as the significance of reform and anti-terrorism efforts in that country”.

FBC denies impropriety in any of its programme-making. Its lawyers said in a letter that “at no time have the television programmes made for the BBC ever been influenced or affected by our client’s commercial activities”. It said that FBC ran production and commercial divisions, which “are and always have been quite separate and distinct”. The BBC, CNBC and the media regulator Ofcom continue to investigate.

Sign up to receive regular updates from Sarawak Report

Your views are valuable to us, but Sarawak Report kindly requests that comments be deposited in suitable language and do not support racism or violence or we will be forced to withdraw them from the site.

  • http://sarawakcorruption.com.my/ Watch Dog

    Well Done SR.Please keep carrying on so that we will get there.Dictator will NOT step down but have to be removed from office..Marcos,Mubarak,Gadafi and now remaining Mugabe,Taib???

    If Sarawak is to prosper..we must get rid of this man..one man,one family,one crony and one race…It is high time that Sarawakians must realise this..

    1. No more forest..no more timber

    2. No more land..

    3. No more rivers…

    4. No more sand

    5. No more mountains

    6. No more hills

    7. Monopoly of business…cement, steel, pipes,wires/cables

    8. No MORE Contracts..

    9. MORE SLAVERY..dirt cheap slavery pay below poverty level.

    EQUAL= Illegal immigrants especially in Pulau Beladin where you know who owns the OIl Palm Plantation…and illegal burning after 5pm and burn the whole night..It's true.

    EXPOSE more please SR.Thank you for the wonderful job .

    • Oooophs!

      When a democratic process is A TOTAL FAILURE and so far from being free of fraud, clean and fair, what are we going to do?

      Imagine, if demonstration and protest are not possible in a police state country like ours, how to make our voice heard?

      If in the worst case scenario, we have no other choice, but to rebel against the tyrannic and evil government, imagine that we didn't have any jungle to hide in and no money to buy destruction and killing weapons furthermore not many people willing to sacrifice themselves for the future of their country and their children.

      Just imagine, what suppressed and marginalized citizens (end product of a systematic political genoxide)of any country in the world would do, if they are in our situation!



    • http://sarawakcorruption.com.my/ Watch Dog



      • Watch Dog

        I am just a hound dog..a stupid hungry old useless hound dog.Do not believe what I wrote ……….it is just for fun.

        • "Party Chap Mat

          Wacth dog, now you knows who you are ? Adeh..adeh..adeh……, You just a stupid hungry old useless hound dog,rupanye kacian u ni yee.

        • http://sarawakcorruption.com.my/ Watch Dog

          ** This comment is NOT from me,the real Watch Dog. I don't belittle myself as I am a BLESSED child of GOD.Plase be ware of duplicate or fake Watch Dog.**

          May GOD bless this man who claimed to be Watch Dog..he is another TAIB's crony

      • http://sarawaknews.wordpress BIAK

        Sometimes truth is a bitter pill to swallow, especially if you are the afftected one….. In the end good prevails over evil… Thats when Sarawakians do the with hunting…

        Beware… the end is near

  • Titan sarawak

    If there is a man who cannot find a name other than "Sarawak Report" to post his comments here, he must be an idiot.

    • Qyampunq Boyz

      Just ignore him. Neuro Psychiatric Class 1 AA psychopath. Probably ATM himself!

      • Qyampung Boyz

        I am under the sipervision of a psychatrist , Dr Cuntfigure, myself since I was 15. Mine is a chronic sizo class xxx.

    • Titan sarawak

      I am also an idiot

  • Blunt Speaker

    Singapore, without any resources, has become the richest and most prosperous state in south east Asia. No doubt Brunei depends on it's oil, but it's still much better off than Sarawak which has so much more natural resources and human capital. Reason is most of the human capital has either migrated or working overseas including in Singapore because of the tyrannical situation in Sarawak. This situation will continue as long as the slave mentality continues to allow the greedy tyrant has easy and absolute control. Election after election, the rural oppressed still vote for the destroyers of jungle habitat, grabbers of NCR land, siphoners of natural resources, the greedy BN regime. Half a century has passed, these people hasn't awaken and are still living a life as primitive as their forefathers, maybe worse, except a selected few who stand to gain by being traitors of their own kind. If the majority of SARAWAKIANS remain asleep and ignorant, the situation will worsen till there is no more cure. Even the international community is beginning to feel something is wrong with the GOVT here, especially with the exposures by SR the plight of the indigenous people, the blatant greed and corruption, and the public relations in the media to uplift the images of these evil people through unethical FBC. Many thanks to SR! This is now the eleventh hour and the people must realize that change is vital. We must look forward to a better and brighter future and not let a selected few to dominate this land, feasting on the resources and wealth while the rest of the majority suffer and continue to be oppressed, suppressed and manipulated. If this situation goes on and worsens further, the rot will set in and the glimmer of hope will gradually disappears.

    • Tuai

      Just blame ourselves, dayaks. We drink and get drunk, gamble, nyabung manuk,and quarrel among ourselves shamelessly. No scapegoating can erase that fact…which has been rooted in the very core of our dayak tradition and blood since time immemorial. This fact will continue and pass over, generation after generation, until Kingdom comes. Sigik amat jako aku . Aki kitai udah kenak pemalik antu guruk suba, enda ulih nyau utai nyak. Irau amat ati aku tuk wai , meda ke bansa kitai ngaga pengawa baka nyak.

  • Sara

    The company is just a receiving end n some funds be channelled back to the paymaster as per the trend! Pay out n came back again one way or another!

  • Sarawak Reporter

    don't stop SR….

    expose, expose, expose!

    • Qyampung Boyz

      expose expose your little snakehead, pliz.

  • Jelivan Hinganjan

    Keep it up until the end Sarawak Report. Without you all we the peace loving peoples in our country are dead meat.

  • bucklynn rimbar

    when the land is ful of darkness we need the little lamp jus to walk the slippery path.a bidayuh saying,translated from bianah dialect.if the reports are true well its the light that guide us to the truth.but what can we really do when all prefer otherwise.many choose to stay in darkness and it does not matter whatever happen in sarawak as long as we get our meal to makan.cukup makan cukup but others makan tak akan cukup wan to cengkup all they can.with mony one can buy everything nothing is impossible.

    truth,fairness and justice should be for all malaysian and sarawakians regardless of races.we should jus be equalised in al aspects.i hope that the truth will prevail and we want the truth with open arms.i m just sad that many sarawakians are so poor namely the rural folks when the cost of living is escalating.God help us,saves us in this land of our fathers.