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Jakarta Post

Self-censorship runs amok on local television

  • Ina Parlina

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, February 27, 2016   /  12:00 pm

It should have been a regular live broadcast of a Putri Indonesia pageant show, but those who tuned in were surprised when private station Indosiar decided to completely blur the torsos of contestants who wore the body-hugging Javanese kebaya dress.

But many considered that local television stations had gone too far when one of them blurred a scene from a popular cartoon show, simply because one of its characters wears a short skirt, and questions began to be raised about why the local channels were taking that conservative turn.

Even the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission'€™s (KPI) 2012 broadcasting guidelines on program standards, aimed at ensuring programs will not contradict values and norms of decency, were not that strict.

The guidelines only order a ban on sexually charged scenes, including those displaying genitalia and nudity, as well as sexual activities and kissing scenes.

The guidelines do order a ban on scenes that '€œexploit or display certain body parts such as thighs, buttocks and breasts in a close-up or medium shot,'€ but it does not specifically target animation shows like the Japanese cartoon Doraemon that was aired by RCTI.

Although programs aired by foreign television channels must first go through internal censorship and follow program classification guidelines, they are allowed to broadcast kissing scenes and display parts of the human body, other than genitalia.

KPI deputy chairman Idy Muzayyad said some TV stations were probably '€œbeing too cautious'€ in translating and implementing the KPI guidelines.

'€œJust refer to the guidelines. They don'€™t need to blur some shots as long as they follows the guidelines,'€ Idy said on Friday.

The KPI recently said that it never issued any policy nor ordered the local private TV stations to blur children'€™s animation programs or the Puteri Indonesia show, saying that KPI was not a censorship body. According to the KPI, the 2012 guidelines were never designed to limit the creativity of TV stations.

Gilang Iskandar, corporate secretary of Indosiar, which aired the Puteri Indonesia pageant, said the blurry pictures were in fact an implementation of the KPI guidelines, particularly on the issue of sensitive body parts like female breasts, and that such self-censorship was a preventive measures taken after the station received several warnings from the KPI.

'€œSo, this is not about the kebaya like what people on social media complained about. This is about women'€™s cleavage,'€ Gilang said.

He said that Indosiar would continue working with the KPI to clear up confusion.

'€œWe will keep communicating with the KPI, so that such confusion will eventually be settled. It'€™s just that the KPI can only act after the programs air,'€ he said.

Syafril Nasution, RCTI'€™s corporate affairs director, said that his station was being too cautious.

He said that no censorship was necessary for kids'€™ programs but because of concerns from the station'€™s quality control team, it took a preventive measure by blurring the short skirt of Shizuka, a love interest of Nobita, the lead character in Doraemon.

Film Censorship Board (LSF) spokesman Rommy Fibri said his office has never called for censorship of children'€™s animation, while Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) chairman Asrorun Niam said censorship was needed to ensure children were protected and that programs should also carry educational themes and not only be entertainment.

President Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo recently called for stricter regulations for television programs and improved the filtering of TV shows that could potentially have a bad influence on children, in order to curb bullying and other forms of violence

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