Malaysia profile

Malaysian women surf the web Malaysia's control over the internet content has worried advocates of media freedom

Malaysia has some of the toughest censorship laws in the world. The authorities exert substantial control over the media and can impose restrictions in the name of national security.

The government is keen to insulate the largely-Muslim population from what it considers harmful foreign influences. News is subject to censorship, entertainment shows and music videos regularly fall foul of the censors, and scenes featuring swearing and kissing are routinely removed.

The TV sector comprises commercial networks and pay-TV operations. TV3 is the leading national private, terrestrial broadcaster.

State-owned Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) operates two TV networks and many radio services. Private stations broadcast in Malay, Tamil, Chinese and English.

Privately-owned TVs have close ties to the ruling National Front coalition, while state outlets reflect government views, says US-based Freedom House.

Most privately-owned print titles are run by parties or business groups allied with the ruling coalition. Newspapers must renew their publication licences annually, and the home minister can suspend or revoke publishing permits.

Around 17.7 million Malaysians are online (InternetWorldStats). Malaysia is listed as a country "under surveillance" by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in its "Enemies of the Internet" report. In particular, the watchdog cites the harassment of bloggers.

Social media use is burgeoning. Leading government and opposition political figures are active on Facebook and Twitter.

The internet has become the main platform for free discussion and for exposing political corruption, says Freedom House.

The press


Women read newspapers Newspapers must renew their licences annually
  • Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) - state-run, operates TV1, TV2
  • TV3 - commercial terrestrial network
  • ntv7 - commercial terrestrial network
  • 8TV - commercial terrestrial network
  • TV9 - commercial terrestrial network
  • Astro - commercial terrestrial network


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