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Please stop the music: 17 songs too sexy for broadcasting watchdog

Wening Gitomartoyo
Wening Gitomartoyo

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Tue, February 26, 2019  /  08:23 pm
Please stop the music: 17 songs too sexy for broadcasting watchdog

Authorities in West Java have put 17 songs into the adult category of the content classification, thereby curbing their airtime in the province. (Shutterstock/BrAt82)

The West Java branch of the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPID) has limited airtime for 17 songs on radio and television in West Java for what it says is sexual content.

A circular titled "Broadcasting Limitation on English-language Songs" signed by KPID West Java chairwoman Dedeh Fardiah on Feb. 18 was sent out to 471 broadcasters in the province. It said the 17 songs could only be played from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Titles on the list include “Dusk Til Dawn” (Zayn Malik), “Mr. Brightside” (The Killers), “Love Me Harder” (Ariana Grande), “Shape of You” (Ed Sheeran), “Overdose” (Chris Brown feat. Agnez Mo), “Your Song” (Rita Ora) and “Versace on the Floor” (Bruno Mars).

The letter referred to several articles of Law No. 32/2002 on broadcasting, such as Article 5, Section B, that stipulates that broadcasting is directed at “protecting and upholding morality and religious values as well as the nation’s identity”.

It also cites the 2012 Broadcasting Law, which states that “Broadcasting programs containing songs and/or music videos that depict titles and/or lyrics with sexual or vulgar themes and/or implying sexual relations are prohibited”.

Speaking to The Jakarta Post, Dedeh said the songs’ lyrics had been analyzed following 86 findings and reports from the public in 2018 and early 2019.

“First, we analyzed the songs, as they could be interpreted in many ways, and we are referring to those with adult content,” she said. “We also held a meeting with experts before the plenary meeting and before circulating the letter.”

“We have not banned [the songs]; rather, we have limited their broadcasting time to that of the adult [content] classification,” Dedeh said. She added that future bans were possible as the commission was committed to child protection.

Arian13, vocalist of rock band Seringai, posted the letter on Twitter on Monday night and ended the tweet with the words “Censorship sucks”. The letter drew mostly negative comments from his followers.

In another tweet, he said, “For me, morality is to be taught by parents and schools, that’s it. The government shouldn’t need to rule its citizen’s morality.”

Read also: Shopee BLACKPINK commercial too salacious, KPI says

Twitter user @keinesasih wrote, “With a meeting by experts and a plenary meeting, they only came up with 17 songs; songs with more vulgar meanings in heavy rotation are aplenty. In conclusion, they are incompetent even for their own agenda.”

On a lighter note, user @wisnukunt made a Spotify playlist filled with the 17 songs, titled “Banned in Bandung”.

Many also commented that the songs were easily found on YouTube and Spotify, two popular platforms in Indonesia.

Andrie Kemir, program director and music director of Oz Radio Bandung, said to the Post that he found the letter problematic.

“A radio station already has a music director, whose job it is to sort out which songs to play in terms of dos and don’ts,” he said via phone.

He also said he found many songs containing similar adult themes, if not more so, yet they were not included on the list.

He shared that, in practice, regulations often stayed on paper. “Announcements were made, but afterward there was no monitoring whatsoever,” he said, adding that this was the first time he had received such a letter.

“Conventional radio nowadays is different from what it used to be. We now play popular songs, those that are preferred by listeners, instead of us introducing new songs. When a listener requests 'Shape of You' by Ed Sheeran, for instance, it’s difficult for us [to reject it], as we always look for listeners,” he said.

Andrie said music directors of Bandung-based radio stations planned to look into the issue. “As there’s nothing concrete yet, we tread lightly. We do have plans to clarify the matter with the West Java KPID, but we will wait to see how it goes,” he said.


The Jakarta Post correspondent Arya Dipa contributed to this story from Bandung, West Java.

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