The News That Fits
The new Broadcast Law seemingly doesn't differentiate between radio and television broadcasts.
"Private Broadcasting Institutions are forbidden to relay regular broadcast programs originating from foreign broadcasting institutions, which include program types: a. news; b. music programs with improper performances; and c. sports broadcasts which show sadistic acts.
I've always considered Kenny G as an improper musical performer. What is more, and even worse, is that his muzak can be heard whenever you telephone a state organisation's customer service.and they put you on hold. Furthermore, I don't recall listening to a radio broadcast of the World Wrestling Foundation or to a verbatim account of a particularly nasty tackle in a foorball match.
No, it's news that is dangerous.
- Foreign news programs regularly relayed by local radio stations are banned completely.
If you've got a decent radio you can pick up these broadcasts directly, assuming the government doesn't decide to follow the practices of former communist regimes which used to jam foreign broadcasts, but now block 'reformist websites'
A key word seems to be 'relay'. My assumption is that means direct broadcasts, rather than pre-recorded snippets of news. One of the major news stories of the past week has been the sighting and attempted rescue of a whale in London's river Thames
. That was carried by local TV channels, albeit with Indonesian commentary. More tragic, yet regular, news is brought from Iraq
It is a Jakartass contention that all news is biased. This blog is my individual perception of what makes the world tick. News media have their own agendas, generally profit driven and therefore concentrated in fewer hands
. Bear in mind that CNN is now part of the Time-Warner conglomerate and that it is nigh on impossible to escape a Rupert Murdoch publication or broadcast.
The 'free press' is an oxymoron, generally with the emphasis on the last two syllables, the market of the lowest common denominators. There are, of course, notable exceptions. As a Brit, I trust both the BBC
and, in particular, the Guardian
to treat me as an educated consumer of news, one capable of accepting or rejected the spin they impart. The Guardian has opened up various blogs
with commenting facilities and links to other sources of information and/or opinion.
The public is now part of a wide community of news gatherers, of 'citizen journalists
'. Witness last year's reports of the London bombs, initial images of which were sent to the outside world with cellphones and digital camerasby those directly involved. Jakartass was also on the 'frontline' following the Bali bombs last year when both the BBC and the Observer contacted me before their own correspondents were available.
The media has three choices: to accept that the public it purports to serve is a stakeholder, that the public are a consumer society to be 'given what it wants', or are mere cogs in a society to be made to fit into the schemes of that society.
There is now no way that any government, apart from those in isolation from the outside world such as North Korea and Myanmar, can completely control either the inflow or output of news. China does not allow dissent and with the connivance of major corporations such as Microsoft and now Google
, it does manage to clamp down on bloggers who use particular technologies and fancy words like d*m*cracy.Google faces a backlash from free speech advocates, internet activists and politicians, some of whom are already asking how the company's policy in China accords with its mission statement: to make all possible information available to everyone who has a computer or mobile phone.
But Indonesia is not isolationist: it cannot afford to be. Insecure and immature, yes, but that is all part of growing up as a democratic nation a mere eight years after emerging from an authoritarian regime which couldn't afford an educated citizenry.
The major effect of the ban that I can see is a diminishing of foreign language broadcasts, which has to be a concern, not least because bahasa Indonesia is an inadequate language. There is no one 'correct' and accepted version for everyday use or for conducting international business. English, in particular, is accepted here and will continue to be.
Exposure to foreign languages and different cultural norms can only benefit a country as multi-cultural as Indonesia. Vive les differences
, says I. It's when our differences are judged as being unacceptable for religious, ethnic or political reasons that conflict arises.
I cannot determine the reasoning behind the new Broadcast Law, although I suspect that it may be an attempt by the Suhartoist élite to hang on to their ill-gotten gains
If so, we must guard against any attempts to censor points of view which challenge those vested interests. The laws of libel, as used against Tempo
, and restrictive practices
denying access to dissemination tools are to be deplored.*Reporters Without Borders
*Jakarta Independent Media Centre