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Content Forum Releases Annual Report of its 20th Year in Service

Highlights include a refreshed branding of the Forum, moving towards charting greater engagement and broader inclusivity for self-regulation across the industry



The Content Forum has unveiled its 2021 Annual Report that highlighted its year-long rebranding exercise towards an improved content landscape in the country. The report detailed the organisation’s commitment towards industry players, stakeholders and members of the public moving into 2022 and beyond, to stay current, relevant and adaptable. This rebranding effort is also a testament to the organisation’s commitment in maintaining public’s trust by being transparent, progressive and inclusive.

The Content Forum has unveiled its 2021 Annual Report to its council members at the AGM

One of the biggest highlights in the Annual Report was the highly timely revamping of the Content Code, given the ever-evolving content landscape in Malaysia. Initially drawn up in 2004, the code is a set of guidelines outlining best practices and ethical standards while offering guidance on self-regulation for content creation and consumption across all digital media platforms.

“The challenge for us back in 2021 was to educate the public on the importance of self-regulation and to update the Content Code that caters to a world of multiple complexities resulting from a new era of User Generated Content such as piracy, fake news, online scams, cyberbullying, hateful messages, e-commerce complaints, as well as invasion of privacy and misleading information on products, services and platforms. With such a broad scope to cover, we would only be able to get to the nitty gritty details of each issue if we work with all the related industry players and join forces to come up with regulations to better regulate these matters,” said Kenny Ong, chairman of the Content Forum.

Kenny Ong, Chairman of the Content Forum

As such, the Content Forum collaborated with the government, industry players, members of the public and other relevant parties through a Public Consultation Exercise to gather feedback. Among them were a highly-interactive multi-layered engagement sessions done via surveys, online platforms and townhall meetings that were carried out across various sectors.

Ministries within the government were also engaged, including the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs to deal specifically with self-regulation on e-commerce platforms, especially when it came to advertising content. The Ministry of Health also worked together with the Content Forum to tackle media reporting on suicide reporting while JAKIM was engaged to discuss various issues pertaining to use of religion in advertising.

Between 24th September to 10th December 2021, a nationwide Public Consultation Exercise was carried out and the revised Content Code draft was circulated to all key stakeholders and members of the public. What followed were virtual and physical meetings with interested stakeholders and a publicity programme for awareness and feedback. This was done to collate responses and extract key issues while at the same time assess public expectations and thoughts about the Code.

During the Public Consultation, 13 town hall sessions were held and a final 1245 submissions were received, with half of the respondents aged between 26 years old to 40 years old. Survey results showed a whopping 97% agreed for active and proactive measures to be taken by public online service providers where content creation is concerned. Meanwhile, 96% agreed for online abuse and gender-based violence to be recognised as a form of violent content and another 94% also agreed that influencers and online market operators should adhere to advertisement guidelines.

The final draft of the new and improved Content Code has been submitted to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) earlier this year and is expected to be registered in the second quarter of 2022.

Increased engagements in 2021 also helped heighten public awareness about the Content Code and Content Forum, where the organisation further zoomed into Institutes of Higher Learning (IHL), especially public universities, in a bid to have the Code incorporated into their education modules and to inculcate the habit of self-regulation among students. This move was well received by these institutions, who are now committed to introducing self-regulation and the Code’s guidelines into their syllabus. The universities also agreed to collaborate in research activities, benchmarking exercises and providing updates on the Content Code and Content Forum in their publications. Content self-regulation training will also be included into the institution’s training and awareness programmes.

“The Content Forum will continue to move forward with greater engagement and more dialogue in our efforts to be progressive and adaptable. We believe that constructive involvement of stakeholders and members of the public greatly facilitates a robust self-regulatory ecosystem and ensures that the Malaysian content industry is propelled towards responsible growth,” said Mediha Mahmood, executive director of the Content Forum.

She also added that while the Content Forum continues to promote self-regulation, its Complaints Bureau takes complaints received from all parties very seriously, while seeking to address underlying issues within these complaints in the Content Code.

Board of Councillors and members of the Content Forum - comprising of key players of the communications and multimedia content industry

Last year, the Content Forum successfully tackled and closed 596 complaints out of the total 600 complaints received in 2021 with the remaining still in progress. Out of these, 412 were related to internet content, 125 to mobile content, 12 for broadcasting content, 2 for advertising content and 49 others unrelated to content.

To keep the momentum of 2021 going this year, Content Forum has plans to increase public awareness towards the Content Forum and the Content Code, followed by the development of supplementary guidelines which will complement the regulations stipulated by the revamped Content Code. A Content Governance Centre will also be established, to serve as a one-stop-centre in listing out all relevant guidelines pertaining to content regulation in Malaysia, for the ease of reference by the content creators and consumers.
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