Are journalists so special? Celcom and Huawei respond

  • Celcom firmly believes in segmentation of customers based on their needs and wants
  • Offer made without obligation and a token of appreciation for media support

Are journalists so special?  Celcom and Huawei respondON Aug 7, I wrote a commentary expressing my concern and disappointment at a 93% discount offer made by Celcom for the media who attended an event it was having for the launch of a Huawei tablet in Malaysia. The device in question was offered to the attending journalists at a mere RM99.
At the heart of my concern was that if left unchecked, these types of discounts for the tech media will totally erode any professional pride in the profession and undermine the credibility of journalists. I felt the offer also showed a lack of respect for the media.
The article touched off many interesting conversations, with some also highlighting that we journalists ourselves ask for discounts.
I thought it was only fair for Celcom and Huawei to give their view of why the offer was made and here are their responses:
Celcom Official Media Statement
With reference to your email dated 10 August 2012, we would like to clarify that we firmly believe in segmentation of our customers based on their needs and wants, which is why we have special plans and device prices for our customers in the government, armed forces, police, teachers, professional business owners, students, and medical personnel that cater to their individual segment needs.
In the same vein, we also have customized discounts and plans for media professionals as we understand that journalists are likely to own more devices and plans than the layman, not just for personal and business use, but also to make fair comparisons between devices and competing service providers as part of due diligence and their responsibility to their audiences.
The discounted price for the Huawei MediaPad is part of a voice + data contract for 24-months with Celcom, and is within our normal working allocation for special device prices within product bundles.
The offer during the media event was completely optional and without any obligation and is also a token of appreciation for media support.
We hope the above explanation clears the concerns you have raised, and we apologize if our intentions were misconstrued. Once again, thank you for bringing this to our attention. 
Huawei Device Malaysia
It is common practice worldwide for telecom operators to subsidise mobile devices before putting them in the hands of consumers. At the end of the day, it is the prerogative of our partners to offer products at a price they deem reasonable to create more accessibility and affordability for consumers. We believe it was a genuine gesture of goodwill with no intention to offend at all.

I ended my article by suggesting that an Integrity Pact was perhaps needed by tech publications. It is something that DNA will explore and revert back to readers on.
Meanwhile, consumers can demand of any tech publication they read to come up with an Ethics Policy on how they deal with media gifts and discounts on devices.

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