KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 17): In line with the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s assurance that press freedom in the country would be given more space to grow, the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) has also been able to undertake transformation within the first 100 days of the new government administration.
From an entity mainly tasked to channel information to the public, Bernama, in the new political landscape, is playing another important role as an agent of check and balance in the nation’s administrative process.
Its chief executive officer, Datuk Zulkefli Salleh said among the initial transformations experienced by the agency under the new PH-led government were the reintroduction of Tamil and Mandarin news on Bernama News Channel (BNC) from July 16 and July 30 respectively.
“The Tamil and Mandarin news are back on BNC due to the initiative taken by Minister of Communications and Multimedia Gobind Singh Deo after his visit to Bernama on May 28, and this clearly proved that we are able to disseminate information objectively and in various languages to the general public in line with our slogan of Get It Right.
“The BNC is now watched by a total of 2.4 million audiences a month, compared to 1.1 million audiences before the 14th General Election (GE14) on May 9. The BNC's Tamil news has 323,000 audiences a month, while the Mandarin news that has been broadcast over the past two weeks already has an audience of 128,000 people,” he told Bernama.
Apart from reintroducing the news in the two languages, Bernama had also improved the quality of its news and information delivery professionally, especially through its wire, portal and radio services.
“The strategy of our news delivery, which is without discrimination and political inclination, has become the factor for the rising number of viewers and subscriptions to our products,” he said.
According to Bernama portal news manager Mastura Hassan, that Bernama.com was now being accessed by more than 10 million visitors a month, a significant increase compared to 3 million visitors before the GE14.
She also said that Bernama’s social social platforms were also gaining momentum with followers on Twitter now numbering to almost 700,000 and the number of ‘likes’ for its Facebook page now amounted to over 400,000.
Meanwhile, Zulkefli said the proposed merger of Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) with the BNC in terms of news production would also give a fresh perspective to the audience of the two media entities.
“The merger that would reduce the operational costs for both media organisations, is expected to enable the broadcasting of latest and most current news and information updates in a more professional and effective platform under a new management.
“It is also capable of raising more funds for the government by focusing on innovation work to upgrade the two news agencies,” he said.
In conjunction with the 100-day administration of the PH government, BNC has also broadcast a special documentary titled “100 Hari Berlalu” for the Bahasa Malaysia version and “Reset Malaysia” for the English version starting Aug 9.
“The documentary recalls the journey and various events encountered by the Pakatan Harapan government so far since the day the won the GE14.
Zulkefli also said from the moment the PH government was formed after the May 9 general election, ???????Bernama's image had been improved through visits from ministers and deputy ministers to Wisma Bernama for programmes with BNC and Bernama Radio.
“We also help other ministries in channelling updated information to the general public and to make Bernama known as the latest news provider,” he said.
Meanwhile, special adviser on media and communication to the Prime Minister, Datuk A. Kadir Jasin in his visit to Bernama yesterday said in the landscape of greater press freedom, the government wished to see the agency to improve its professionalism and play a role of an agent of check and balance.