Mapping Digital Media: Malaysia
Fig. 1. Courtesy of The Open Society Foundations, 2013.

The Open Society Foundations released its report Mapping Digital Media: Kazakhstan written by Jo-Ann Ding, Lay Chin Koh and Jacqueline Ann Surin. "The Mapping Digital Media project examines the global opportunities and risks created by the transition from traditional to digital media. Covering 60 countries, the project examines how these changes affect the core democratic service that any media system should provide: news about political, economic, and social affairs."

Malaysia has had a torrid relationship with digital. Mahathir Mohamad, the former Malaysian prime minister, fell in love with it in the 1990s when he launched the Multimedia Super Corridor, a sort of East Asian Silicon Valley, to develop the local information and communications technology industry.

Two out of three Malaysians regularly use the internet (even though large areas of the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, where nearly a fifth of the population lives, pose logistical challenges regarding infrastructure) and a third of the population have a 3G mobile subscription. Broadband household penetration in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, is 112 percent because many citizens have both fixed and mobile accounts. Nearly half the population is on Facebook with an average of 233 friends each, the greatest proportion in the world, all on social networks for an average nine hours a week. And they still seem to find enough time to watch television for three and a half hours a day and to listen to the radio for three hours.

The outlook is for an expansion of internet and mobile-based platforms for news, comment, social networking, activism, and entertainment. However, a change of government is probably a prerequisite for the kinds of changes that would usher in greater diversity in broadcast and print, such as regulatory independence, repeal of the Printing Presses and Publications Act, and the dismantling of monopolies, rules on cross ownership, and political parties’ ownership of media companies.

From the report's executive summary:

Malaysia has had a torrid relationship with digital. Dr Mahathir Mohamad fell in love with it in the early 1990s when, as prime minister, he launched the Multimedia Super Corridor, a sort of East Asian Silicon Valley, in 1996 to develop the local information and communications technology industry.

Around 15 years later, two out of three Malaysians regularly used the internet (even though large areas of the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, where nearly a fifth of the population lives, posed logistical challenges regarding infrastructure) and a third had a 3G mobile subscription. Broadband household penetration in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, is 112 percent. Nearly half the population is on Facebook with an average of 233 friends each, the greatest proportion in the world, all on social networks for an average nine hours a week. And they still seem to find enough time to watch television for three and a half hours a day and to listen to the radio for three hours.

...

As with many countries, in Malaysia what you see is not entirely what you get. As part of the “cybercity” project launched in 1996, the government set out a 10-point Malaysia Bill of Guarantees, no. 7 of which was to “ensure no censorship of the internet.” But read the small print: “this does not mean that any person may disseminate illegal content with impunity and without regard to the law.”

...

More recently, in 2012, the principle of the presumption of guilt was reversed in an amendment to Malaysia’s Evidence Act under which website owners, administrators, and editors are responsible for content published on their sites, including comments posted by others. If they are to avoid punishment, they must prove they did not publish the content.

...

... As with so many other countries, where the offline media are in the hands of political and business elites and are often dull, millions turn to online alternatives. Nielsen figures for 2011 show that Malaysians view the internet of all media platforms as the preferred information source (63 percent), the most trusted (46 percent), and their main source of news (44 percent).

Content

Mapping Digital Media
Executive Summary
Context
Social Indicators
Economic Indicators
1. Media Consumption: The Digital Factor
1.1 Digital Take-up
1.2 Media Preferences
1.3 News Providers
1.4 Assessments
2. Digital Media and Public or State-administered Broadcasters
2.1 Public Service and State Institutions
2.2 Public Service Provision
2.3 Assessments
3. Digital Media and Society
3.1 User-Generated Content (UGC)
3.2 Digital Activism
3.3 Assessments
4. Digital Media and Journalism
4.1 Impact on Journalists and Newsrooms
4.2 Investigative Journalism
4.3 Social and Cultural Diversity
4.4 Political Diversity
4.5 Assessments
5. Digital Media and Technology
5.1 Broadcasting Spectrum
5.2 Digital Gatekeeping
5.3 Telecommunications
5.4 Assessments
6. Digital Business
6.1 Ownership
6.2 Media Funding
6.3 Media Business Models
6.4 Assessments
7. Policies, Laws, and Regulators
7.1 Policies and Laws
7.2 Regulators
7.3 Government Interference
7.4 Assessments
8. Conclusions
8.1 Media Today
8.2 Media Tomorrow
List of Abbreviations, Figures, Tables, and Companies

The full report is available for PDF download here.