New MCMC Content Code more flexible for industry

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission's (MCMC) Content Code for communications and multimedia industry launched in October last year has enabled the radio industry to make its own decision on programming and the choice of songs. 

The industry now has the flexibility in broadcasting newer content and no longer needs to comply with the list of banned songs, as this would be dealt with under the Content Code itself, MCMC's head of corporate communications department Adelina Iskandar said. 

“This is consistent with our move towards self-regulation, in allowing radio broadcasters room to make their own decisions on programming and songs,” she told Bernama. 

Adelina said that previously the content had to be pre-approved by Radio and Television Malaysia/ Information Ministry (RTM/MoI), and this had resulted in some songs not being permitted to go on air immediately after an album launch, or the content not aired. 

She said that the move to introduce the Content Code has also promoted the development of local content, which could be seen from the birth of new stations such as Xfresh.FM, which focuses on ‘progressive’ local content. 

The Content Code launched by MCMC’s Communications and Multimedia Content Forum (CMCF), allowed Malaysians and various industry players to create, disseminate and consume content while still abiding the various regulatory processes. 

Under the code, as envisaged by the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, it would be an offence for “content applications and service provider, or other persons using a content application service, to provide content which is indecent, obscene, false, menacing, or offensive in character with the intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any person.” 

To ensure a uniform and coordinated content regulation among the public and private stations, the Ministry of Energy, Water and Communications has also established a coordination committee called the Committee on Content Monitoring of Public and Private Television and Radio Stations. 

At the launch, its minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik described the Content Code as a bold move by CMCF in its efforts to address the converging industries of telecommunications, broadcasting and computing, which are rapidly becoming a single industry. 

Touching on annual fees, Adelina said licensees only needed to obtain the minister's approval to provide new services, without having to apply for new licenses. 

“There is also a system of licence fee rebates for expenditure on local content, which licensees can take advantage of,” she said. 

As for enforcement, Adelina said such activities undertaken by the MCMC had achieved positive results in terms of the launch of new services and applications, as well as to protect the interest of legitimate players within the industry. 

In addition, she said, the measures – such as the requirement to comply with mandatory standards on quality of service – seek to ensure that licensees comply with a minimum standard of quality to protect consumer interest. 

Asked whether MCMC has taken any action against private radio stations that failed to adhere to the Content Code, Adelina said that MCMC had issued compounds under the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA). 

However, she was unable to disclose more information. 

Under section 242 of the CMA, an offender could be fined not exceeding RM100,000 or jailed not more than two years or both, Adelina said. – Bernama 

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