Geramm urges all media workers and supporters to show their solidarity by retweeting a message from its official Twitter account @MediaGeramm on 9pm (March 3) and noon (March 4) – directed towards the Twitter accounts of communications minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek and prime minister Najib Razak
Cutbacks, unpaid salaries – broadcasting journalists feel the pinch of crony capitalismJournalists will go on Twitter tonight to campaign on behalf of broadcating staff and contract workers who have suffered cutbacks and unpaid earnings at national broadcaster Radio-Television Malaysia and Bernama TV, an affiliate of Bernama, the national news agency.
The two media houses, both government-owned, have had financial problems. particularly at Bernama TV which, despite its name, was privatised under a typical Umno-Barisan Nasional crony deal.
Tonight’s “Solidarity Media for Media” campaign, by Geramm (the angry journalists movement) will start at 9pm with a tweet urging the prime minister Najib Razak and information minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek to ensure the welfare of RTM and BTV staff.
Tomorrow (Wednesday) it will begin at 12pm, two hours before the weekly Cabinet meeting.
RTM contract workers say they had been unpaid since December. Some have taken to odd jobs, including selling coconuts.
Shabery Cheek has said an administrative error caused the payment problem. The national broadcaster currently undergoing restructuring to prepare for high-definition and digital broadcasting.
Bernama TV was unable to pay January salaries until the parent news agency, which owns 30% of the privatised entity, gave a loan to pay salaries up to February.
Bernama is to take over the station from the private owners, Shabery Cheek has announced.
Shuffling it around, but nothing ever happens
Bernama TV staff on unpaid leave
Last month, Malaysiakini reported that 30 of Bernama TV’s 140 staff had complained to the Labour Department about their unpaid salaries. They had all been told to go on unpaid leave.
The salary problems began late last year, when staff went without pay for nine weeks, taking on odd jobs in the meantime.
A Labour Department officer confirmed a report had been lodged and that arbitration efforts would begin.
“When covering ministers, the media is at the front. Now that Bernama TV has fallen flat, I want to see which minister will come forward,” reads another tweet which mentions Najib, Shabery, and Khairy.
BTV is owned by Bernama TV Synergy Sdn Bhd, which is 33 percent owned by the national newswire. The rest of Bernama TV Synergy is privately-owned.
Who owns Bernama TV?
from Free Malaysia Today, quoting Teo Nie Cheng, MP for Kulai
Bernama TV Synergy Sdn Bhd (BRTV) was set up in 2008 to launch and manage the new 24 hour news channel “Bernama TV”, aired via Astro channel 502.
Its shareholders consist of four companies: Bernama Berhad, 33 per cent; Silver Ridge Multimedia Sdn Bhd, 30 per cent; Standard Code Sdn Bhd, 30 per cent; and Hallmax Entertainment Sdn Bhd 7 per cent.
Apparently, Bernama was given the 33 per cent share block in return for giving the exclusive broadcasting rights to BRTV to operate and manage BTV.
Under the Agreement, Bernama will rent out all the equipment (including studio and office space) to BRTV. It will also outsource its Audio Visual staff to continue operating the new TV channel. By doing this, Bernama would be able to generate income from the idle equipment and facilities and will not need to retrench its staff.
However, like many other good ideas in Malaysia, it did not happen as planned. By mid-2009, BRTV owed Bernama the total amount of RM18 million. This is primarily the rental of equipment, office space and the cost of the outsourcing staff.
In a nutshell, Bernama has been funding the operation of BRTV in the following manner: funding about RM1 million monthly to pay the salaries of BRTV staff; spending about RM4 million to RM5 million on a new studio and upgrading of equipment in 2013; seconding about 25 staff to work in BRTV (but under the payroll of Bernama); and paying for many other items including utilities, travelling, equipment rental etc.