TV Station Defends Threatened Program

Source: The Jakarta Post

Kurniawan Hari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

JAKARTA — Although the final draft of the broadcasting law restricts local radio and television stations from relaying foreign-made news, an official with private Indosiar said on Wednesday his TV programing would remain unchanged.

Indosiar news director Nurhadi Purwosaputro said that a program titled Halo VOA aired every Thursday morning was not a target of the restriction.

“It is not foreign-made news. We cooperate with VOA (Voice of America) to make that program,” Nurhadi told The Jakarta Post.

He was commenting on a statement from House of Representatives legislator Djoko Susilo who said that news of VOA and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) relayed by Indosiar and Elshinta radio station respectively would be restricted.

Elshinta executives refused to comment on the issue.

The government and the House agreed on Aug. 30 to ban local radio and television stations from relaying foreign programs live, except for sports.

“No broadcasting stations using Indonesian frequencies are allowed to relay programs by foreign stations,” said Djoko, a member of the House’s special committee deliberating the broadcasting bill.

According to Djoko, the frequencies issued by the authority in Indonesia must be used to broadcast domestic programs. Violating the rule could be categorized as a crime that may lead to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to Rp 10 billion.

Djoko emphasized that Global TV, which is an adaptation of MTV, could be the main target of restriction. “The local television station will of course be banned because most of its programs are from abroad,” he said.

The bill also stipulates that local stations are allowed to broadcast prerecorded programs of foreign stations as long as they do not exceed 40 percent of the total broadcasting time.

Nurhadi insisted that Halo VOA was not a relayed program but made in cooperation between Indosiar and VOA.

According to him, staffers with Indosiar are involved in the news-making process. “That’s why we are calm in our response to the final draft,” he added.

Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) chairwoman Ati Nurbaiti, meanwhile, said that whatever the excuse for the ban on the relaying of foreign news reports, it was “unacceptable, ridiculous and hard to believe”.

“We know that press freedom is not here yet and this is one sign that evidently reveals how the government wants to revert to press control,” she said.

“News stations would surely choose to have correspondents all over the world if they could, but even so, the ruling reeks of censorship, which we should have done away with the minute the government dissolved the ministry of information.”

The two-year deliberation of the broadcasting bill is expected to end with its endorsement on Sept. 23.

Key articles in broadcasting bill

– The setting up of the Indonesian broadcasting commission (KPI) to be tasked with supervising the activities of all broadcasting stations.

– Foreign investment in private stations must not exceed 20 percent of the total investment.

– Cross-ownership in printed and electronic media will be limited in a regulation to be formulated by the government and KPI.

– Community-based broadcasting must not be used for the propaganda of particular groups.

– Licenses for broadcasting activities are issued by the state upon the recommendation of KPI.

– Licenses for radio and television are for five years and 10 years respectively, and may be extended.

– Content of broadcasting activities must consist of at least 60 percent domestic programs; the remaining 40 percent may be foreign programs comprising educational, religious, cultural, technology, entertainment and sports programs.

– Regular relay from foreign stations will be limited.

– Advertisements must not contain or be about religion, ideology, alcoholic drinks, addictive substances, cigarette smoking, indecent practices or the exploitation of children under 18 years.