Parliament plans revision of Indonesian Broadcasting Law – AJI concerned about press freedom restrictions and discrimination

The Indonesian Parliament is discussing the revision of the Indonesian Broadcasting Law No 32/2002. Academics, human rights activists, and media stakeholders oppose the suggested revision. The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) in Jakarta and the Press Legal Aid Institute (LBH Pers) expressed concerns that the planned amendments potentially stifle the freedom of expression and discriminate against minorities in Indonesia.

One of the most crucial issues in the revised law concerns the Broadcast Content Standard (SIS), which contains restrictions, prohibitions, and obligations for broadcasting organisations. According to AJI, the suggested amendments restrict journalistic work as well as the freedom of expression in Indonesia and expand the authority from independent bodies like the Press Council (Dewan Pers) to the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI), a semi-governmental organisation financed by the State and supervised by the national and regional parliaments.

The KPI was established based on Broadcasting Law No. 32 of 2002 as an independent government institution. According to the KPI broadcasting should be “organised to strengthen national integration, foster the character and identity of a nation of faith and devotion, educating the nation’s life, advancing public welfare, to build an independent, democratic, just and prosperous society, and to grow the Indonesian broadcasting industry”.

AJI particularly criticised Article 50B (2) of the draft as an indication of the government’s unwillingness to reform the state administration. The Article restricts the exclusive broadcast of investigative journalism and prohibits the broadcasting of content on LGBTIQ+, as well as content that contains false news, slander, insult, and defamation.  Aji called upon the government to utilise exclusive investigative journalistic materials as a means of checks and balances for a healthy state life instead of restricting these information channels. Moreover, the prohibition of broadcast content on LGBTQ+-related issues discriminates against LGBTQ+ persons.   

AJI Jakarta and LBH Pers urged the parliament to

1. review the urgency of revising the Broadcasting Law;

2. remove problematic articles with the potential to violate press freedom and the public’s right to information;

3. involve the Press Council and civil society groups that have a special interest in issues that intersect with the Broadcasting Law.