Show-Stoppers

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20 June 2014 18:04 WIB

Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI). TEMPO/Dasril Roszandi

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The recommendation from the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) to revoke the permits of two television stations that have become 'spokesmen' for presidential and vice-presidential candidates deserves support. Unfortunately this recommendation has run up against the brick wall of the Communications and Information Ministry.

Frequency bands are public property, and are limited in number. Anyone can publish a newspaper and distribute it wherever they want to, but they cannot simply broadcast television or radio signals because the frequencies used are determined by the 'lessor' according to the law. The KPI regularly carries out evaluations to determine whether to extend or revoke licenses. The yardstick used is compliance with regulations.

One such regulation is set out in the Broadcasting Law. Article 36, point 4 of Law No. 32/2002 states that broadcast content must preserve neutrality and cannot prioritize the interest of particular groups.

TV One and MetroTV, the two stations called for to have their licenses revoked, are clearly in breach of this regulation. TV One has become a mouthpiece for the Prabowo-Hatta Rajasa ticket, while MetroTV has become the voice of the Joko Widodo-Jusuf Kalla partnership. The bias of these two stations has gone too far. It is not educational and has become part of the black and negative campaigning that attacks opponents. These two television stations have come to look like propaganda machines for the candidates they are defending, which is against the law.

This partiality of private stations actually began during the legislative election campaign. The 'color; of the television stations followed the direction of the station's 'owners'. The KPI reprimanded five stations, namely TV One, 'owned' by Aburizal Bakrie who trumpeted the virtues of the Golkar Party, MetroTV with its 'boss' Surya Paloh became an instrument of the NasDem Party and three stations (MNC, RCTI, and Global), the 'property' of Hary Tanoe that became a broadcaster for the Hanura Party. The Press Council also issued reprimands because owners of broadcasting licenses must follow the journalism code of ethics as laid down by law.

Unfortunately all these reprimands were seen as nothing more than empty words. And during this presidential campaign, the infractions have crossed the line. TV One now resembles a vehicle for the Prabowo-Hatta Rajasa ticket because the Golkar Party is part of their coalition. MetroTV seems to have turned into an organ for Joko Widodo and Jusuf Kalla because the NasDem Party has sided with them. The intense competition and the bias of the respective stations has gone too far. The people, as owners of the frequency bands, are no longer receiving balanced and neutral information.

The KPI was right to make its recommendation to the Communications Ministry, the state organization holding the right to issue broadcasting permits. According to the law, the KPI recommendation should be seen as an evaluation because the job of the KPI is one of oversight.

The state should immediately step in and carry out an investigation. If there have been serious transgressions, in the interest of public interest to obtain information that is accurate, and not simply aired in support of a particular group, the Communications Ministry should not be afraid to revoke broadcasting permits. Then the frequency bands that have been returned to the public could be 'auctioned off'. There's bound to be many takers. The selection could be tighter and fairer, with no more decisions being made on the basis of closeness to the ruling elite, like the 'collusion' during the New Order era. 

Most importantly, the licenses must not fall into the hands of businessmen who are also politicians. (*)



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