Public may sue govt for
concentration of media

The government may face a lawsuit for allowing television stations to become increasingly concentrated under a handful of owners and for standing idle as media outlets are used to promote political interests ahead of the 2014 elections, an official says.

Media regulator PR2Media chairman Amir Efendi Siregar said that Law No. 32/2002 on broadcasting guidelines and broadcast program standards provided a legal basis for such suits.

“Television uses limited frequencies that belong to the public, and therefore it must be used for the public interest,” Amir said on Tuesday.

Article 5(g) of the law stipulates that broadcasting is regulated to prevent monopoly in ownership and to promote healthy competition.

Article 12 of Government Regulation (PP) No. 50/2005 on privately run broadcasting institutions, which is an implementing policy of Law No. 32/2002, stipulates that private radio and television broadcasting institutions can only run one broadcast with one channel in one particular coverage area.

In reality, however, of the some 300 private broadcasting institutions in the country, 218 are managed by Jakartan television stations that are under the control of just five owners.

Hary Tanoesoedibjo’s Bhakti Investama manages MNC TV, Global TV and RCTI; Aburizal Bakrie’s Viva Group manages tvOne and ANTV; Emtek owns Indosiar and SCTV; Chaerul Tanjung’s CT Corp owns Trans TV and Trans 7; and Surya Paloh owns Metro TV.

“The absence of a guarantee of the diversity of ownership will lead to capital authoritarianism and information monopoly in the name of freedom that eventually will kill democracy,” Amir said.

Article 11(2) stipulates that broadcasting institutions have the obligation to maintain independence and neutrality of its broadcast contents.

KPI Regulation No. 02/2012 on broadcast program standard, similarly says that broadcast programs must be for the public interest and not for one particular group’s interest. It also stipulates that broadcast programs cannot be made to serve the interests of the respective owners and their cronies.

The chairman of the Yogyakarta Broadcasting Commission (KPID), Rahmat Arifin, said that such violations had happened because politicians were getting more and more aware of the role of media as an effective medium for selling themselves and their ideas.

“In fact, many of the owners are also politicians and they are prone to using their media to advertise themselves regardless of the fact that the frequencies they use to broadcast belong to the public,” Rahmat said.

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