Govt assures no layoffs at Bernama, RTM

PETALING JAYA, 11 Nov 2019: 

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo yesterday said there is no indication to reduce the staff of the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) and Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM).

In fact, he said, these two organisations – especially Bernama – had carried several changes to keep up with technology.

“When you look entities like Bernama, you can see it is undergoing many reforms as we have already started on the effort to change…to project ourselves, I think you can see new programmes, new look and the feel factor we have adopted.

“So the question of jobs has really not come back to me yet, but it is something I will leave it to Bernama to decide and they will probably come back to me later, but at this point in time there is no indication there will be cut (reduce)…yet.

“And as for RTM, we are also looking at how we can transform, as you know recently we have just shut down the analogue broadcast and had gone digital..once you have digital then there is potential for a lot more television stations, a lot more channels…a lot more content,” he said when asked whether there was a plan to reduce the number of staff in Bernama and RTM just like Media Prima Bhd.

On Nov 1, local media giant Media Prima announced a business transformation and internal restructuring exercise which is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2020.

Media Prima, however, has given its assurance that all employees affected by the transformation effort would receive a fair and equitable compensation package.

Gobind said the media landscape in the whole world has changed and at the end of the day it is moving towards technology-based media which resulted in a great impact on the traditional print media.

“So this is the reason why many traditional media houses have to reconsider their business model, of course at the end of the day, it really comes back down to commercial viability and I think they need to make decisions based on what is happening around them (and) how they gonna keep on as media houses for the years to come.

“But again I would like to emphasise we must always focus on the well-being of the staff, jobs are very important…but in the case of Utusan (Malaysia) (it is) very important to ensure the employees are paid.”

On Oct 9, Utusan Malaysia ceased operations after a prolonged financial crisis, while their staff service tenure ending on Oct 31.

Last December, as part of the company’s cost-cutting measures, some 800 staff accepted a voluntary separation scheme (VSS) exercise.

Meanwhile, Gobind said the government is working with media agencies to find new mechanisms in dealing with fake news.

He said it is a joint responsibility between government and media to combat fake news.

“We also held discussions with certain members of the media to see whether we can form a platform to have a mechanism to deal with fake news.”

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Utusan Melayu branch has claimed it was not informed of any development pertaining to the report that Utusan Malaysia to make a comeback next year.

Chairman Mohd Taufek Razak said the latest information received from the management was that it was trying to liquidate the company’s assets and staff were still awaiting compensation as promised.

“We have not received any details about the Utusan is making a comeback next year,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Entrepreneur Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof was reported as saying Utusan Malaysia was set to make a comeback next year – during a programme in Tenggayun, Johor, while campaigning for the Tanjung Piai parliamentary by-election.

Utusan Malaysia, the oldest Malay-language newspaper in the country and Kosmo!, a daily also published by the company, had ceased operations since Oct 9, due to financial problems.

– Bernama