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Problematic broadcasting bill will destroy democracy, press freedom: Setara

CNN Indonesia - May 15, 2024

Jakarta – The Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy believes that the Draft Broadcasting Law (RUU Penyiaran) contains several provisions that indicate there is a systematic effort to undermine democracy and press freedom.

Setara Institute legal and constitutional researcher Azeem Marhendra Amedi said that these systematic efforts include controlling journalistic content, threatening freedom of expression and the right to obtain information.

"The Setara Institute is of the view that the UU Penyiaran contains several problematic provisions and will damage the agenda of democracy and democratisation, press freedom, freedom of information, and the human rights agenda in general that have been fought for since the beginning of the reformasi", said Amedi in a statement on Wednesday May 15.

According to Amedi, the Draft Broadcasting law validates the narrowing of civil space. Annual reports by the Setara Institute show that the score on indicators of freedom of expression is always the lowest.

In 2019, the indicator of freedom of expression received a score of 1.9. Then 1.7 in 2020, 1.6 in 2021, 1.5 in 2022 and 1.3 in 2023.

"Meaning, that instead of guaranteeing freedom of expression, the RUU Penyiaran in fact has the potential to worsen the situation of freedom of expression, especially through the shackling of press freedom", he said.

The Setara Institute believes that the bill contains several provisions that are intended to control press freedom, especially investigative journalism through Article 50B paragraph (2) point c.

Amedi said the article that prohibits investigation journalism is an effort to reduce control over the government.

Yet one of the pillars of modern democracy is press freedom of that provides space for investigative journalism to exercise control over the use of power and the running of government.

In addition, Setara Institute believes that journalistic content and products should remain under the jurisdiction of Law Number 40/1999 on the Press.

Amedi cited the provisions on the expansion of the authority of the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) under Article 8A point q authorising it to resolve journalistic dispute in the field of broadcasting, which will castrate the authority of the Press Council.

"This provision is intended to weaken the Press Council as a pillar of press freedom, because the scope of the Press Council's authority to guarantee press freedom also covers journalistic content that is broadcast through electronic media", he said.

The Setara Institute also believes there is a need for a clearer understanding of several terms in the broadcasting bill.

For example, the use of the term "content creator" is open to multiple interpretations and has the potential to increase control over individual digital content creators. This could reduce the space for individuals to exercise freedom of expression.

In the realm of content material, the prohibitions on various kinds of digital content is contrary to the right to information guaranteed under Article 28D Paragraph (3), Article 28E Paragraph (3) and Article 28F of the 1945 Constitution.

Meanwhile in the formal domain, because several institutions and groups such as the Press Council have not yet been involved in the deliberations on the bill, this will reduce the democratic legitimacy of the bill, so that it has the potential end up being annulled because it ignored the principle of meaningful participation.

"After examining the RUU Penyiaran circulating among the public, the Setara Institute is pushing for substantial changes to the RUU Penyiaran, and in this context the Setara Institute is urging the House of Representatives (DPR) and the government to expand meaningful public participation", Amedi said.

Earlier, DPR Deputy Speaker Sufmi Dasco Ahmad said the DPR would consult with the press in response to widespread criticisms over the proposed articles in the bill prohibiting investigative journalism. He claimed that the DPR will consult with the press so these clauses can be applied effectively.

"Yes, perhaps we will consult with friends on how to make everything run properly, so their rights remain, but the impact can then also be minimised", said Ahmad at the parliament complex in Jakarta on Tuesday May 14. (lna/fra)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Setara: RUU Penyiaran Problematik, Rusak Demokrasi dan Kebebasan Pers".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20240515135705-20-1097942/setara-ruu-penyiaran-problematik-rusak-demokrasi-dan-kebebasan-per