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Jakarta Post

Wary of media moguls, House to amend Broadcasting Law

  • Margareth S. Aritonang

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, September 24, 2013   /  10:11 am

The House of Representatives has started working on amending Law No. 32/2002 on broadcasting in an effort to prevent media moguls from influencing editorial decisions in the run-up to the 2014 presidential and legislative elections.

House Commission I overseeing information proposed an amendment to the broadcasting law aimed at guaranteeing '€œdiversity of content and ownership as well as imposing stricter punishments for broadcasting violations'€,

Commission I chairman Mahfudz Siddiq commented on the issue on the sidelines of a hearing to discuss the amendment on Monday.

'€œThe fact today is that broadcasting companies are owned by politicians who apparently use their corporations to promote the interests of their parties. This is possible because we lack strict regulations. This revision will promote objectivity and neutrality in reporting,'€ he said.

Mahfudz said that the amendment under discussion would also allow the government to revoke the broadcasting license of any company that abused its media outlets for personal, financial or political interests.

He said that an amendment to the Broadcasting Law was urgently needed, especially after the controversy over the decision from state-owned television station TVRI to broadcast live the presidential convention of the ruling
Democratic Party.

The current 2002 law on broadcasting has many flaws that experts have said had been exploited by media conglomerates to further their interests.

One of the most dubious provisions is contained in Article 18, which sets vague limitations to private broadcasting company ownership. The provision has been blamed for allowing monopoly in the media.

On Monday, Commission I and the Communications and Information Ministry officially agreed to draft an amendment to the law.

The House and the ministry agreed that the draft amendment would contain 14 chapters and 99 articles.

Commission I expected to endorse the amendment by January next year.

To hammer out the amendment, the commission has set up a special working committee with 27 members, including the commission'€™s four leaders '€” Prosperous Justice Party'€™s (PKS) Mahfudz, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle'€™s (PDI-P) Tubagus Hasanuddin, the Golkar Partys Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita and the Democratic Party'€™s Ramadhan Pohan.

The working committee has also been charged with monitoring for potential violations of the broadcasting law, especially ahead of the 2014 elections.

Communications and Information Minister Tiffatul Sembiring said that the amendment would also have provisions that would deal with foreign ownership of media companies and regulations on cigarettes advertisements.

Tifatul said that some of the provisions would be aimed at breaking up the media monopoly.

'€œThe public interests should be put above all. No group is allowed to monopolize the business,'€ he said.

Tifatul, a PKS politician, also supported the House'€™s move to block owners of broadcasting companies from interfering in editorial policies.

Major broadcasting companies in the country are controlled by politically wired businessmen.

Media tycoon and Golkar party chairman and presidential candidate, Aburizal Bakrie, controls news channels TVOne and ANTV, as well as the online news portal Vivanews.

People'€™s Conscience Party (Hanura) chief patron Hary Tanoesoedibjo, who is the Party'€™s vice presidential candidate for the party, now controls PT Media Nusantara Citra (MNC), one of the largest media networks in Southeast Asia.

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