The Communications and Information Ministry, through the Batam office of the Satellite Orbit and Radio Frequency Monitoring Agency (Balmon), has banned 10 licensed private radio stations in Batam, Riau Islands, for impacting on flight safety at Changi Airport in Singapore and Hang Nadim Airport in Batam.
Two-hundred people have subsequently lost their jobs.
Agency head Muhammad Sopingi told The Jakarta Post on Monday that the ministry’s Directorate General of Post and Telecommunications had received letters of complaint from the Singapore and Hang Nadim Airport flight authorities in June about a radio communication interruption between pilots and air traffic controllers (ATC) due to the frequency synchronization problems caused by the radio stations in Batam.
During takeoffs and landings, pilots often heard songs aired from radio stations, so they could not clearly hear traffic guidance from the ATCs on their radios.
“We have closed the 10 private radio stations although they are equipped with radio broadcasting licenses, because their equipment has disrupted flights at both airports. We are currently conducting study on whether it is feasible for them to broadcast again,” said Sopingi.
“The closure of the 10 private radio stations in Batam is purely law enforcement,” he said.
Sopingi said Balmon and the police turned off the radio stations’ transmitters as of Sept. 14. All are equipped with radio broadcast licenses, including several that have been operating for more than
However, their equipment is faulty, causing leakages, thus disrupting various other frequencies, including civil flight frequencies located at 117.00 Mhz.
“If this continues unchecked, we fear that flight disruptions in Singapore and Batam could cause casualties,” said Sopingi.
Riau Islands National Private Radio Station Association (PRSSNI) head Kristianto said the closure by Balmon was shocking as at least 200 people working for the radio stations lost their jobs.
“We came to the Balmon office to ask for further explanation on its reasons to close our radio stations, which have operating licenses. Balmon has explained to radio operators about the flight disruption at the airports in Singapore and Batam. Balmon promised to allow us to operate again if our equipment worked as it should,” said
He said his radio station, Kei FM, had been operating for more than 11 years without causing disruptions, but on Sept. 14, Balmon closed it unilaterally.
He said he would ask the ministry to allow private radio stations in Batam to resume operation.
“We agree to a temporary closure on the grounds of flight safety, but please let us know how to broadcast safely, because based on information from our technicians, there is no leakage of frequency,”
Based on PRSSNI data, the 10 licensed private radio stations and state-run Radio Republic of Indonesian are broadcasting in Batam, excluding at least seven other illegal radio stations.