Public Service Broadcasting Regulations Inhibit Media Freedom in Indonesia

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) have criticised four new public service broadcasting regulations as a tool that will impinge upon the public’s right to freedom of information in Indonesia. 

The new rules will come into effect on February 6, two months after the government agreed to a postponement due to media outcry. 

Based upon the Broadcasting Law of 2002, the regulations represent an attempt to install a sense of order in Indonesia’s media industry, which encompasses over one hundred television and radio stations that have operated without official control since the fall of Suharto. 

The regulations deal with monitoring programs, allocating frequencies and licensing broadcasting stations. However, the crucial point of controversy is the fact that the regulations will severely restrict foreign broadcast content, having a detrimental impact upon media freedom by limiting news and information sources. 

IFJ’s affiliate in Indonesia, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), insists that the law should be abolished and emphasises the value of foreign news and current affairs programs to Indonesian journalists. The president of AJI, Heru Hendratmoko, said: “Broadcasting journalists in Indonesia also have a benefit from foreign broadcasting because they can learn much from their colleagues abroad about how to produce news material, gathering information, and make a packaging as broadcast news.” 

Indonesia has previously broadcast a number of foreign news programs that include BBC, the Voice of America, and Deutsche Welle. There are fears that soon millions of Indonesians will no longer have access to alternative sources of information. 

IFJ denounces the new regulations as an attempt to inhibit the freedom of the media and control information. The president of IFJ, Christopher Warren, said: “We are appalled at new regulations limiting the broadcast of foreign programs. It is essential that the Indonesian public have access to a variety of media perspectives, and we implore the Indonesian Government to respect the public’s right to freedom of information.” 

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919 

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries