RTM programmes cost over RM30m the past six months

The government spent more than RM30 million to finance television and radio programmes for the first half of the year, the Dewan Rakyat was told today

In a written reply to Ramli Ibrahim (PAS-Kota Bharu), the Information Ministry said that Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) produced 1,154 programmes at a total cost of RM20,566,429. Over the same period, RTM also produced radio programmes for 29 channels nationwide and 10 channels overseas known as Suara Malaysia costing a total of RM15.4 million.

Ramli Ibrahim has asked the ministry to state the number of programs produced by RTM and the costs incurred for the first half of the year.

In an immediate reaction, Mahfuz Omar (PAS-Pokok Sena) said programmes produced by RTM are not "progressive and intellectual" to warrant such a massive production cost.

"The programmes are mostly political propaganda which can lead to disorder and chaos in the country," Mahfuz, who is PAS Youth leader, told malaysiakini at the Parliament lobby today.

"We need programmes which can enhance our knowledge and promote our culture, not those which are only propagandistic in nature," he added.

The opposition parties raised strong objections when RTM aired a series of TV clips on primetime which were detrimental to PAS' image prior to the Indera Kayangan by-election early this year.

Opposition parties suffer

Although RTM has been targeting Umno's arch rival PAS, Keadilan and former ally DAP have also suffered from the aftereffects by virtue of being aligned to the Muslim-based party in Barisan Alternatif.

Following the Sept 11 attacks, RTM has aired TV clips on the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in order to "remind" people about the atrocities wrought by terrorism.

The national TV also showed clips of the Memali incident in Kedah in 1985 where several people, including police personnel were killed.

PAS leaders had defended those who died as martyrs while the government had condemned the violence that occurred as a result of the farmers' action.

As an Umno-controlled media, RTM has also given little or no air time to opposition leaders to state their views on national events and policies. At best, RTM only granted the opposition the token half-hour radio broadcast during the general election.

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