MALAYSIA: Actress' comment on Prophet leads to ban on KL talk show

Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission say Sensasi program was banned for not following licensing, content codes

Straits Times
Sunday, February 25, 2007

Kuala Lumpur --- The authorities in Malaysia have banned a popular live television talk show following a comment a local artiste made about the Prophet Muhammad's first wife, according to a report yesterday.

The weekly Sensasi (Sensation) programme on TV3 was banned after well-known actress Rosnah Mat Aris reportedly linked gossip about her relationship with a younger man to the Prophet's marriage to his first and older wife, Siti Khadijah.

Ms Rosnah made the comment while answering a question on the programme, which features discussions with people in the arts and entertainment industry.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) said the broadcast on Jan 30 did not abide by licensing and content codes and TV3 had failed to control inappropriate content, The Star newspaper reported.

"TV3 has been asked to stop the live broadcast of the show with immediate effect," the commission was quoted as saying in a statement to the newspaper.

Ms Rosnah's comment on the show sparked numerous complaints from viewers and attracted the attention of Malaysia's Islamic authorities.

The MCMC did not state directly whether Ms Rosnah's comment had insulted Siti Khadijah, but its spokesman Adelina Iskandar criticised the Sensasi programme for being out of step with national values, said the daily.

Sensasi should have "contributed to the national aspiration and not offend the sensitivity or values of the community," she was quoted as saying.

Ms Adelina said TV3 would need approval from Malaysia's Film Censorship Board to air pre-recorded versions of the programme.

The commission could not be immediately reached for further comment.

TV3 and a number of other Malaysian media outlets have been pulled up in the past year for content deemed insulting to Islam.

In March last year, TV3 and another private station, ntv7, issued apologies for inadvertently airing pictures of the controversial Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that sparked protests across the world.

Malaysia also closed down one newspaper in February last year for publishing the drawings.