The crowded field of the Malaysian news portal landscape might shrink a little as The Vibes founder, Datuk Vinod Sekhar, confirmed his acquisition of The Malaysian Insight (TMI), as reported by Focus Malaysia yesterday. This move is seen as a positive step to address the financial challenges faced by news portals and enhance their competitiveness in today’s fast-paced media environment, particularly with the rise of social media.
While the specific details of how The Vibes and TMI will streamline their operations are yet to be revealed, TMI operates under a paywall, requiring a subscription, whereas The Vibes offers free access to its news.
According to the Focus Malaysia report, insiders suggest that discussions between Vinod and TMI’s CEO, Jahabar Sadiq, will determine the merger’s direction. In the meantime, it’s “business as usual” for both news portals.
This acquisition aligns with Vinod’s vision of establishing a strong online news presence, catering to the current leadership under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
The Vibes, a relatively new entrant in the online news space, faced staffing challenges after a significant number of its staff left to join Scoop.my, following a disagreement between its former managing editor, Terence Fernandez, and Vinod.
TMI, on the other hand, is a buyout of The Malaysian Insider by Jahabar after its parent company, The Edge Media Group, closed the news portal in 2016, citing significant losses. This decision followed the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) blocking The Insider due to national security concerns, stemming from the publication of defamatory content.
Focus Malaysia also noted that The Insider was launched in 2007 as an alternative to Malaysiakini, seen as unfriendly to the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration, by businessmen and journalists close to former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.