Ensuring news outlets treated fairly by social media platforms

IPOH: News organisations need to sit down with social media platform operators to deal with copyright infringement issues, says Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil.

“At the organisation level, I think there needs to be discussions or a united front from all media organisations with social media platform operators.

“We want a healthy environment, and I see the need for us to sit down and discuss (matters),” he told reporters after a dialogue with members of the state media fraternity organised by the Perak Media Practitioners Association at its clubhouse here yesterday.

“We hope that our relationship with these (social media platform) operators can be closer so that we can discuss related matters,” he said, adding that his aspiration was that the issue could be discussed amicably.

The issue with copyright infringement was highlighted to the minister during the dialogue earlier.

The government, said Fahmi, would look into the entire ecosystem to iron out the matter, adding that there were various challenges to look into.

“I understand the same issues also arise in other countries and I believe we can come out with a solution that is suitable for ours,” he said.

In countries like France and Australia, search engine company Google and Meta (which operates Facebook or FB) are required by law to pay local media outlets if their articles appear in online search results or on the FB newsfeed, respectively, while Canada is also in the process of formulating similar legislation.

Since the articles appear on their platforms, these two companies take up a big chunk of the digital advertising revenue that would otherwise go to the media companies that actually produced the content.

On the draft Bill for the setting up of a Malaysian Media Council, Fahmi said this was expected to be tabled in Parliament in March next year at the latest.

“We expect it to be as early as October when Parliament is in session or at the latest in the first session in 2024, around March,” he said.

Fahmi said since March, the ministry had carried out a series of discussions with all media organisations to get their opinions and views.

Having discussed this within the ministry, we have brought up some of these views to the Prime Minister.

“But as there are some new developments in some countries pertaining to their respective laws, it has added some new challenges.

“We will work towards having a suitable Bill for our country,” he said.

Fahmi also said that he would bring up the welfare issues faced by stringers or contract workers to the relevant media companies.

Among the issues raised were Socso (Social Welfare Organisation) contributions, claims, as well as the hiring of workers on a permanent basis after a certain period.

“We will discuss these matters with the respective media company bosses and also with the Human Resources Ministry. We understand the challenges faced by the media practitioners on the ground,” he said.

Also present were Fahmi’s deputy, Teo Nie Ching, and state communications, multimedia and non-governmental organisations committee chairman Mohd Azlan Helmi.

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