Loyal Followers

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Astro, give some respect to your customers please!

This post is prompted by Astro’s chop-job of BBC news report as shown here.

The Malaysian Insider later reported that BBC had strongly condemned Astro’s move. A BBC spokesman was quoted as saying:

 ”During the week of World Press Freedom Day, it would be deplorable if access to independent and impartial news was being prevented in any way. We would strongly condemn any blocking of the trusted news that we broadcast around the world including via distribution partners.”

In response, Astro was reported to have said that the news report was subjected to a chop-job by Astro to “suit local rules.” No details or particulars of the said local rules were given by Astro.

I am a subscriber of Astro. In fact, I not only have one account, but two.

Generally, I must say I quite like Astro, particularly the sports, documentary and of course the international news sections. The movie section sucks big time. Astro must be the only television channel in the whole civilised world that is still showing Missing In Action 1,2 and 3. And Death Wish too. I would rather stare at a blank TV monitor rather than watch these movies, dear Astro.

Astro.com.my Portal   Subscriber Terms   Conditions

This is a screen shot of the terms of my subscription contract with Astro. Don’t bother reading it. My view is that it is one of the most lopsided agreement in this side of the universe. Basically, the agreement says I should pay Astro to subscribe certain packages. On the other hand, Astro is in effect not obliged or responsible to provide any kind of service whatsoever.

If this agreement is governed by English law, it might be challenged under the Unfair Contracts Terms Act 1977. But well, Malaysia does not have that kind of Act of law. We are more concerned with same sex shagging and the likes. Consumerism is not very important here. So we have big corporations riding roughshod over consumer rights and the likes. Who cares, right? You have got the choice of not subscribing if you are not happy, right?  So, sod off!

Essentially, what the terms of my subscription with Astro provide is as follows:

- I pay to watch programmes under certain packages

- Astro can revise the programmes anytime it likes

- Astro can also revise the amount I have to pay anytime

-Astro is not responsible nor liable for any interruption, suspension or termination of the services for any reason whatsoever

And this takes the cake:

“Astro makes no warranties or representations whatsoever with respect to the content of the programming included in the Services, in particular Astro does not guarantee the sequence, accuracy, completeness, timeliness or the security of any data or information contained in the Services.”

So, on the literal interpretation of the terms of subscription, we all pay fees to Astro and Astro don’t have to provide nuts to us. Astro is not responsible for anything under the agreement.

Granted.

Astro says in the agreement that it makes no warranty or representation with respect to the “accuracy or completeness” of the content of the programming.

Does that mean, if we watch the BBC channel on Astro, Astro can show the Kenyan’s news channel instead of BBC regardless of the fact that that channel is known as the BBC News Channel? On a quick reading and without employing some kind of intelligence, yes, it appears to be so.

So, Astro can do a chop-job on any BBC news report and shove it into our throat like some Lords shoving hot molten iron into some peasant’s throat in medieval time, right?

NO!

First of all, Astro may not have made any warranty or representation about the content in the agreement. But Astro does make a warranty and/or representation about the BBC News Channel and every other channel on its website and flyers. On BBC News Channel, this is what Astro warrants and/or represents:

“BBC World

Channel 512

BBC World News, the BBC´s commercially funded international 24-hour news and information channel, is owned and operated by BBC World News Ltd, a member of the BBC´s commercial group of companies. BBC World News attracts 74 million viewers a week, is available in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide, and reaches 292 million households and more than 1.7 million hotel rooms. The channel´s content is also available on 81 cruise ships, 46 airlines, 35 mobile phone networks and a number of major online platforms including bbc.com/news. For further information on how to receive BBC World News, download schedules or find out more about the channel, visit bbcworldnews.com.”

This is the screen shot.

Programme Guide

Basically, although Astro does not make any kind of warranty or representation in the subscription agreement, it does give all of us expectations that the BBC News that Astro is providing us is the one which is produced by, in its own words, the “BBC World News, the BBC´s commercially funded international 24-hour news and information channel, is owned and operated by BBC World News Ltd, a member of the BBC´s commercial group of companies.”

Further, although Astro is at pains (in its subscription agreement) to emphasise that it is not responsible for the “accuracy” or “completeness” of any of its data or content, Astro surely does not have the legal right to deliberately or intentionally distort, misrepresent or alter the content without the consent or at the very least, knowledge, of its customers.

The censorship or chop-job by Astro of the relevant BBC news report amount to just that, namely, the alteration or modification of a report which was published by Astro as the original and true report. If that was not a misrepresentation or a distortion, tell me what is.

The least Astrio could have done was to put a notice when that particular report was being aired to the effect that the clip was being censored, changed, altered or modified (call it whatever and howsoever you may like). That would let your customers know that what you are showing is not the original report.

At least, treat your customers with some respect! They pay you for God’s sake!

In Malaysia, nobody, and I mean. NOBODY respects copyrights and intellectual properties. Piracy is everywhere and for all to see. Pirated video games, movies and songs are sold everywhere. Watches, handbags, shoes and you name it, they are everywhere.

It is of much concern that private individuals do not respect copyrights. But when a huge corporation give scant respect to an original production by chopping it as it pleases and passing it as the original production without notice to its customers, that is really sick!

Astro’s purported explanation, to the effect that the report was chopped-up to “suit local rules” is at most, laudable for its efforts and laughable for its insult on our intelligence. What local regulations? Please show us.

If a news report does not suit local rules, the right thing to do is not to air it at all. If you have to air it, air it in full. And if you wanted to air it with modification, then by any means, tell your customers that the report is not the original one, at the very least. Professional courtesy also demands Astro to at least inform BBC about it.

As for Minister Dato’ Seri Utama Rais Yatim’s statement that the report shown by Astro shows the “best parts” of the news, well, I am not going to say anything about it. I will let the viewers make their own conclusion.

While Astro chopped a BBC news in order to show it’s “best parts”, the Star yesterday surely shoed the "best parts" of local news. And without any chop-job too if I may add. The Star had even seen it fit to provide the links to the blogs which carry the so-called sex pictures.

The Star must be the first ever “people’s paper” in the whole world to have provided links to alleged sex pictures of a politician.

Congratulations the Star. You have achieved a new standard in responsible reporting.

You deserve a Pulickzer.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Let’s heal this nation

I wasn’t there on Saturday.

I was however constantly checking out the progress of the BERSIH sit-in through various social-media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook as well as some websites which provided updates from time to time.

In the morning it was like one huge festival. It was like the Rio carnival (without the samba, of course). I saw people converging, talking to each other, singing, walking around and taking pictures. I could also see police officers standing guard, looking at possible trouble-makers, talking to each other and manning their respective post.

There was an air of optimism. There were heart-warming moments, captured on camera, of people handing flowers and balloons to police officers, while their colleague looked on with amusement. There were people asking to pose with police officers and the latter obliged with a smile.

All these pictures of  festivities – grudging as they might be -  moved me to twit in the late morning, “Police acting with considerable restraint so far. The people are not the enemy. Syabas.” I tagged PDRMsia to that twit.

I have written about unity before. I have postulated that national unity exists on two levels, namely, situational unity and what I call the transcendental unity. And I was thinking, the Bersih rally, at least in the hours before 2pm on 28th April 2012, is a perfect example of what I had termed as situational unity.

When the people have one purpose in mind, they would instinctively move as one towards achieving that on e purpose. They would suffer hardship, readily go through inconvenience and sacrifice time and money to move together for that one purpose. And they would stand side by side with complete strangers, regardless of breed and creed; regardless of race and religion in the pursuit of that one purpose.

That is my theory in Dear Brother Anas. And the Bersih rally proves just that.

Events however took a turn for worse just after noon. Some rally goers broke the barricade and encroached on Dataran Merdeka. Suddenly the police and the Federal Reserve Unit started using the water cannon and tear gas. And all hell broke loose.

In a way – and I am speaking as a third party here, as I wasn’t there to have a first-hand experience – it could have been the result of a miscommunication, a non-communication even.

I do not know whether there was sufficient publicity about what would constitute the “bantah” itself; what would constitute the end of the rally and what the rally goers were supposed to do after it all ended.

It was all a bit of a confusion. The plan was to have a sit-in at – or rather, on – Dataran Merdeka. The authorities were having none of that. They obtained a Court order against that. They then set out barriers, barricades, barbed wires and razor barricades around Dataran Merdeka.

Then there was a statement by the police saying that the people will be allowed to converge at several meeting points as planned by Bersih. However, the statement also said that the police were going to take action if the people start moving towards Dataran Merdeka. Then there was a statement by Bersih’s Dato’ Ambiga saying that Bersih will comply with the Court order by not occupying Dataran Merdeka.

So what was the exact plan? Meet at the meeting points. And then what?

At a certain point of time, I read about Dato’ Ambiga addressing the crowd and declared the rally a success. She then asked the rally goers to disperse. Where did this take place? I do not know. And how many from the crowd managed to listen to or hear her request to disperse? I do not know.

All that we know is that the rally did not end even after that request by Dato’ Ambiga. There was a group of people who breached the barricade. According to an interview given by a friend of mine, Fahri Azzat, he was about 100 metres away from the barricade.

He saw a float consisting of the opposition leaders. Then he heard people saying “get in get in, it’s open” or something to that effect. He did not know what that meant although it was in his mind that perhaps the barricades had been removed. Then the police charged.

His interview is here.

I saw many video on YouTube. And many pictures posted on the internet.

Many of them are downright disturbing. There was a video of some people smashing a police car at a junction. There was another video showing a police car (probably the same police car which was being smashed) along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman being driven into a crowd at Sogo. Then there were shouts that somebody was underneath that car and people were upturning the car although at the end of it, I could not see anybody under that car.

There was also a disturbing video of a group of policemen, all in uniform, assaulting a man who was arrested at a t-junction. That was painful to watch, to say the least. In addition, there were numerous accounts of post-arrest assaults.

Then on Twitter, there were twits of the person allegedly rammed by a police car (probably the police car in the video which I described earlier) had died. Then there were twits about a police gun having been snatched.

Quite surreal I must add was a twit saying the police gun was later recovered. I mean, how negligent can a police officer be to lose his gun. And how dumb the gun snatcher was to let that gun be recovered afterward?

The most disturbing twits which I had read later was the rumour that not one, but two policemen had died!

I shook my head in total disbelief at the crass nature of some of the statements made from both sides of the fence. At the sheer irresponsibility of it all. All in the name of expression.

In the middle of it all, I asked myself, what has happened to all of us, the people and the authorities? Have we abandoned reason and rationality? What has happened to humanity? Are we all so caught up with our perceived struggle and functions so much so that we are no more brothers and sisters of the same nation?

My optimism quickly swallowed by a sea of shocking acts of crime, I descended into a state of shock and disbelief. My twit reflected how I felt. At the end of it, I twitted, “I weep for this nation.”

Yesterday was Sunday. And this morning I have not recovered from my bout of depression.

I am trying to avoid reading any kind of news about Bersih. However, I know for sure that the blame game will start, if it hadn’t started in the first place.

The government will blame the opposition. The opposition will blame the government. There will be one side who blames the police for all the mayhem. The police will in turn blame the rally goers for being rowdy. Everything under the sun will start blaming Venus, the moon and Mars except for themselves.

Deputy Minister Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah has reportedly said that the Bersih event had shown a nation angry and divided.

I say, apart from that, the Bersih rally reveals a nation which is not at ease with her people and on the other hand , a people which is suspicious of their nation. It shows that at times, all of us could lose our head and descend into some kind of a contagious sickness.

I just pray that soon, all of us would regain our collective consciousness; regain our rationality and reasonableness; regain that missing piece of humanity. And then perhaps we would sit down, with a cup of coffee in hand, and ponder whether we would want to continue with our waywardness.

Or whether we would want to heal this nation; get back on our feet and move forward as one people with one purpose.

In unity.