Regulating media moguls
This week there was a fierce debate in Indonesia’s national parliament between Commission I and the Ministry of Department of Communication and Information Technology (DOCI) on regulating media ownership especially on television stations.
Harry Tanoesoedibjo’s MNC and Chairul Tanjung’s PARA groups were accused of having disobeyed the laws (Broadcast Law 32/2002 and Governmental decree 50/2005) by owning television stations which lead to media concentration.
MNC owns RCTI, TPI, and Global TV. PARA owns TRANS7 and TRANSTV. By the way, they should also have mentioned Bakrie group of owning ANTV and TVONE (formerly Lativi) – perhaps because the latter group is linked to Golkar therefore the parliament members did not want to offend their own mates by mentioning Bakrie.
Regarding this broadcast industry, I would think that DOCI could learn from end of last year’s decision by Bank Indonesia of “single presence policy” in banking business. It rules that one owner can only own one bank. It is to avoid monopoly hence lowering barrier to entry to new players.
It worked. Regarding this policy, Temasek Holding for example released its ownership of BII and indeed a new player, Maybank (Malaysia Bank) came in to buy the shares and ownership of BII. It just ran smooth.
Now DOCI’s turn to take its role. MNC, PARA, and Bakrie have been reaping big revenues from television commercials by broadcasting mostly cheap programmes (VHS programmes of “Violence, Horror, and Sex”). DOCI could endorse divestiture of the television station ownership e.g. TPI ownership should be divested so that MNC is not the sole owner.
Would DOCI do it? Would Yudhoyono take the risk of limiting media moguls power?
In fact, DOCI and Yudhoyono government still owe to their constitutional mandates that they have to actually implement “network television system” as requested by the Law. The system rules that each station firm has to divest their ownership with local business partners. It has been pended due to political calculation of the incumbent not to risk media support for 2009.
DOCI should just revoke the law regulating the system and then change it to another system which the US has been applying: owned-and-operated stations and affiliate stations as a network television system scheme of ownership.