THE mainstream media will be freed from government control and political influence under a Pakatan Harapan government, its chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.
This would ensure neutrality in media coverage, he said in a policy talk that was broadcast on Facebook today.
“TV3, Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian, New Straits Times and other media will be freed from the control of political parties. There will be no restriction on the freedom of speech,” he said, naming some of the media organisations that are owned or controlled by lead Malay party Umno, which dominates the Barisan Nasional coalition.
In his time as prime minister, Dr Mahathir had been accused of clamping down on the press especially during Ops Lalang in the late 1980s, when The Star newspaper and a few other publications were suspended.
PH’s promise of media freedom comes as the BN government also seeks to court media practitioners ahead of the 14th general election.
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also home minister, yesterday said the government would amend the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) 1984 after the election.
The government would look at making the Act, which governs the publication of newspapers, less restrictive, he said.
Zahid, who held a dialogue with mainstream media editors yesterday, also raised the possibility of forming a regulatory media body or council.
The idea of a media council is not new, however, although past attempts by the government to initiate one never took off as practitioners felt such a body could still be controlled by pro-government parties or individuals.