CNBC cans World Business over allegations
Regional - CNBC has canned its flagship weekend international business show titled World Business following allegations of impropriety linking the programme to FBC Media, a British firm allegedly paid millions of ringgit by Putrajaya and Sarawak to project their images globally.
The news of CNBC's popular business news programme, under the eye of its managing editor John Defterios, being dumped was first reported yesterday by blog, Sarawak Report.
"Allowing slots to be purchased in this way, deceiving millions of viewers who thought they were watching impartial programming, is a serious breach of broadcasting laws, for which broadcasters such as CNBC's parent company, the American broadcasting giant NBC, would be held ultimately responsible," Sarawak Report said.
The BBC, which also has dealings with FBC Media is understood to have ceased running FBC content pending a thorough investigation.
In an email to The Malaysian Insider, Charlotte Westgate, CNBC's vice-president of marketing and communications stated: "You are correct in that we have withdrawn World Business in the light of serious questions raised last week and we have initiated an examination of FBC and its business practices."
The allegations were first brought to light by the Sarawak Report on Monday (1 August), in an article which claimed the London-based television production-company, had a contract with Sarawak's Chief Minister, Taib Mahmud, to improve his international image.
It also listed ruling coalition politicians Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his predecessor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as amongst the politicians who had arrangements with the company.
According to the report, the federal government through the Prime Minister's Department had given as much as RM57.68 million to FBC Media between 2008 and 2009.
Another RM42 million was paid for further global strategic media campaigns last year. Taib Mahmud, has given at least RM15 million to FBC Media annually.
Yesterday, Opposition party PKR demanded an answer from both the federal and Sarawak state governments over the allegations.
Calling it an "illegal media campaign", PKR communications director Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said the public has a right to know adding further explanation must be had on "why they have chosen these desperate tactics to spend millions of the taxpayers' money."
FBC Media, short for Fact Based Communications, was formed in 1998 as a "European-based media and entertainment group specialising in television format creation, production and distribution", according to its website.
The company's executive chairman is Alan Friedman, an American journalist who interned in the Carter White House and worked as a columnist for the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal.
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For speaker information and event details see the site festivalofmedia.com/asia
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