I hear with much dismay and shock a rumor that said RTM is destroying their old video archives for various reasons including the videotapes are fungus ridden and also because of space constraints.
If this is true, it is a sad day for all broadcasters and filmmakers who have made a living for the past 40 years in RTM. If their products, which were archived, are destroyed, there will be no trace left of their contribution to the industry.
I have given my own concerns to RTM about this matter a few times.
I believe archival material to be considered as heritage - a valuable one at that.
BBC and other TV stations put billion-dollar value to their archives. For example, Shaw Brothers archive was sold for millions to a company called Celestial Pictures, a company believed to be part of Tan Sri Ananda's vast media empire.
Imagine news archive, drama archives of popular 70s programmes, musicals programmes, interviews and other materials - all of them somewhere in RTM's vast video vault. Imagine the value of this archive. Yet, no one knows how to exploit them at all.
The problem may also lie in the video format. Video recording began as 2 inch C or B video formats, and then went smaller with the advent of the 3/4 inch Umatic format which was upgraded to the HiBand format. And then came the Beta SP mode which lasted quite sometime until digital Beta arrived. Now, video has gone leaps and bounds with true HD technology including Blue Ray disc recording technology. Also I must not forget to mention the vast productions done on 16mm celluloid well before video technology became affordable to producers.
The machines that play back these formats may be obsolete, but this is no excuse to destroy the materials. RTM should have these old playback machines up and running and transfer all the old archived materials into digital format - tape, optical or harddisk. These digital formats do not self destruct easily, have long shelf life and hardly takes any space.
Once digitised, once the video images data are embedded, searching for videos and images are just a click away from a computer console.
Once that is done, the archives has value - you can resell the stuff - to universities doing research, to private sector who needs various images and for themselves by reediting old materials and releasing it to the open market. For example, I am sure thousands will buy a special edition of Sudirman's appearances on RTM's programmes. I am also sure there are many fans of old TV hits like my TV series Gado Gado.
Furthermore, by doing these, the producers will be earning royalty from past works (that is if RTM feels it is morally right to pay producers for programmes they resell to ancillary markets). However, the ultimate reason for doing so, is that the videos and images are there for all time.
If the Information Minister reads this post, I do hope he takes measures to prevent this from happening. If RTM doesn't want the old video tapes, I do....give it to me. For RM1, the price of what a foreign firm paid for Lotus to Proton, I will take all the video tapes RTM doesn't want. I know what to do with them.