Suspend implementation of new broadcast rules

7 February 2006

President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono
Republic of Indonesia
Presidential Palace
Jakarta Istana Negara
INDONESIA
Fax: +62 21 345 7782

His Excellency,

The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) is concerned by the passage of Indonesia’s new broadcasting regulations, as the laws will limit people’s access to information, politicize processes for obtaining broadcasting licenses, and in general potentially have an adverse effect on the flow of independent news in Indonesia.

Access to information, and to a plurality of sources of news and commentary, is vital for Indonesia’s aspirations as a democratic and developing country. The restrictions and mechanisms introduced under the new broadcasting regulations represent a step back in this regard.

The new regulations, which took effect on 6 February, deal with licensing of private broadcast stations, imposing content restrictions on broadcasters, the allocation of broadcast frequencies. SEAPA is particularly troubled by new rules that will prevent the local private television and radio stations from directly relaying news broadcasts provided by foreign agencies. We also note Indonesian journalists’ opposition to an article that would transfer the power to issue broadcasting licenses from the independent National Broadcasting Commission (KPI) to the Ministry of Communications and Information.

Indonesian journalists are concerned that empowering the Ministry of Communications and Information in this manner will politicize the process of obtaining broadcasting licenses. At the same time, we share their concern that laying down barriers and parameters to the relaying of foreign news broadcasts would deprive Indonesian’s of crucial sources of news and information.

We strongly urge the government to suspend the implementation of these regulations, and to first hear out the concerns of the KPI and Indonesian journalists in general. We are confident that such a dialogue will be in the best interest of Indonesia’s independent media, and of Indonesian citizens in general, as they work and aspire for a truly democratic and dynamic Indonesia.

Sincerely,
Roby Alampay
Executive Director