A civil society group has started a movement to empower the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission ( KPI ) to get tough on private television stations promoting the interests of political parties affiliated with owners of the stations.
The group, which calls itself Frequency Belong to the Public ( FMP ), called on the KPI to revoke the licenses of channels that had aired political ads as doing so violated the 2002 Broadcasting Law.
'The KPI needs to give harsh sanctions to these stations because the content of what these television stations are airing is not neutral. According to the Broadcasting Law, the stations must maintain neutrality and they should not be influenced by any group or interests,' Roy said in Jakarta on Thursday.
The group also accused the KPI of turning a blind eye to rampant political ads on television.
Data from the KPI said that there were 430 Aburizal Bakrie and Golkar Party political ad spots aired throughout October 2013 on TV One and ANTV, two channels controlled by the Bakrie Family.
Meanwhile, RCTI and Global TV also aired two quiz shows,'Kuis Kebangsaan' ( Nationality Quiz ) and 'Indonesia Cerdas' ( Indonesia Smart ), which campaigned for the presidential bid of People's Conscience Party ( Hanura ) chairman Gen. ( ret ) Wiranto and his running mate Hary Tanoesoedibjo. Hary runs Media Nusantara Citra, which owns the two channels.
News channel Metro TV was also deemed partial by running political ads for the NasDem Party as well as giving extra airtime for party chairman Surya Paloh.
The FMP, consisting of the Information and Communication Technology Watch, Indonesian Communication Student Association, private channel watchdog Remotivi, and the Alliance of Independent Journalists ( AJI ) Jakarta branch, has filed an online petition on website change.org.
As of Thursday evening, 3,500 people had signed the online petition.
'The role of the media has been reduced to voicing their owners' interests and no longer plays the role of government watchdog. It is clear that this is very dangerous,' change.org communications director Indonesia Arief Aziz said.
The KPI earlier summoned and reprimanded six TV stations: RCTI, MNC TV, Global TV, ANTV, TV One and Metro TV in December 2013 for their excessive coverage of political candidates and political parties.
Contacted separately, KPI commissioner Agatha Lily said that the online petition would embolden the commission to get tough on errant stations.
'This petition or movement will force us work better because our role is to make sure that broadcasters provide impartial and balanced reporting. We will be firm with any TV station and we will not think twice [about punishing them] if they violate the law,' she said.
KPI chairman Judhariksawan meanwhile said that it would be difficult to move against the television channels, which have insisted that their coverage of political parties and candidates was outside the purview of the commission.
'They argue that only the General Elections Commission [KPU] and the Election Supervisory Body [Bawaslu] have the authority,' he said.