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How Astro censors international news feeds

Fri 2012-May-18 @ +08 10:54:52 am

Asia Sentinel, the Hong Kong-based news web site, has named news controller Vincent de Paul as Astro’s “censor” of international news in a report that takes a peek into how Astro deals with news bulletins from international broadcasters.

Two weeks ago both the BBC and Al Jazeera complained that their news bulletins on the Bersih rally of April 28 were chopped up before rebroadcast to Astro subscribers.

In a piece at the Sentinel yesterday, John Berthelsen wrote:

On Vincent de Paul as Astro censor

According to a former Astro employee, the television news feeds are routed through a small room in the Astro headquarters, where electronic devices search the broadcasts for keywords that may be objectionable to government officials. The censorship section is headed by a “news controller” named Vincent de Paul, Asia Sentinel was told. Repeated calls to the Astro office in Kuala Lumpur, including attempts to speak with de Paul, were unsuccessful.

“They always censored stuff in that room downstairs and they were very proud of it,” said the former employee. “Vincent de Paul basically watches it. The worry was CNBC. He was carving out word for word what they were saying because they often mentioned Anwar.”

On censorship of interntional news

Malaysia’s mainstream media are all controlled … and all are closely monitored…It had been assumed, however, that the international news from satellite channels had remained uncensored.

“We will be asking Astro for an explanation as to why Harry Fawcett’s report of the rally in Malaysia was apparently censored,” said Osama Saeed, head of international and media relations for Al Jazeera in Doha, in a prepared release. “If Astro are indeed saying that it breached ‘local content regulations,’ they would need to outline exactly what these alleged breaches were and how they arrived at their decision.

“If Astro are censoring output, then they should make clear to viewers and to broadcasters as and when it happens. We have had no communication on this incident from Astro. Our news report was a factual account of events that day, and intrusion in our editorial process is unwarranted. We have not been censored in this way by another distribution platform anywhere in the world.”

On Harry Fawcett’s report

Al Jazeera reporter Harry Fawcett attempted to film police beating protesters into the ground. However, Fawcett was roughed up and his own camera was pushed to the ground. When the episode was shown on the Al Jazeera broadcast that night, an Al Jazeera spokesman said the police violence had been excised in Malaysia.

(Harry used his iPhone and Skype to file after the camera was damaged. His report is on YouTube)

» The full Sentinal report


  1. nstman permalink
    Fri 2012-May-18 @ +08 12:11:11 pm 12:11

    Vincent de Paul was a news reporter in the NST in the nineties. He joined Astro probably in 1998.

  2. Chin P.S. permalink
    Fri 2012-May-18 @ +08 20:53:04 pm 20:53

    In crux, whoever is in charge of letting “sensitive” news items through, will have to weigh his actions against the consequences of a very big stick being waved by the Home Ministry. That stick has seen newspapers ceasing publication and hundreds of colleagues going out of work. Toe the line or cease to exist. Most would choose survival as one can’t do anything of service to an audience if one ceases to exist. So they live to fight another day. But how long has this been going on and when will it end?

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