Digitizing broadcast for equality in broadcasting

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Chairwoman of the Republic of Indonesia’s House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Republik Indonesia – “DPR RI”)’s Commission I, Meutya Hafid. (Photo: Rayi Gigih/IO)

IO – The Indonesian Broadcast Commission (Komisi Penyiaran Indonesia – “KPI”) and the Government are very much concerned that many citizens in border areas receive a majority of broadcasts from neighboring countries. Therefore, KPI and the Government are preparing the shifting of our national broadcasting system from analog to digital or ASO (Analog Switch Off) on 2 November 2022. Chairman of Central KPI Agung Suprio stated that the presence of digital broadcast in isolated areas and border areas is extremely important for maintaining the sense and value of nationalism among the citizens in these regions. 

Agung further stated that the issuance of the Job Creation Law is an effective solution for strengthening national values through broadcast institutions. The Law clearly regulates the shift in broadcast system from analog to digital, as well as how to manage it. “KPI appreciates the House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat – “DPR”) and the Government for having created this Law in the context of preserving nationalism, the State, and the nation,” he said in his address during the online Socialization and Publication of “Protecting Indonesia and Its Borders through Digital Television Broadcast” held in Bali on Saturday (12/12/2020). 

Also present at the event were President Director of the Ministry of Communications and Informatics’ Telecommunications and Communications Accessibility Agency (Badan Aksesibilitas Telekomunikasi dan Komunikasi – “BAKTI”) Anang Latif; Assistant III of the Provincial Government of Bali, I Wayan Suarjana; and representatives of both Public Broadcasting Agencies (Lembaga Penyiaran Publik – “LPP”) and Private Broadcasting Agencies (Lembaga Penyiaran Swasta – “LPS”). 

Central KPI Commissioner Mohamad Reza believes that the migration of analog TV broadcast to digital should open the path to actual diversity of content. The national shift in broadcasting system is also expected to open up business opportunities for everyone in the broadcasting business, including regional or local content production businesses as announced by the International Telecommunication Union. Reza believes that the people should receive the content that they want and ask for, instead of settling for what’s available due to broadcast monopolies. “The people must have other options available. Therefore, we prepared an instrument for measuring information MKK (minat, kepentingan dan kebutuhan – interest, relevance, and need). We believe that there are regional changes – for example, the citizens of Bali and Papua would naturally have different wants and needs, and we can find out what they are with this survey,” he said. 

Minister of Communication and Informatics Johnny G. Plate stated that the pandemic is both an opportunity and a challenge that allows the Government to equalize the level and distribution of broadcasting access and quality. “This is the agenda proposed by President Joko Widodo. He reiterates in various opportunities that our homeland covers the entirety of Indonesia, and that therefore all development should be Indonesia- centered. All Indonesian citizens must be able to enjoy the fruits of development,” he said. 

Minister Johnny reiterates that special joint appointment of the Ministry’s General Service Agency (Badan Layanan Umum – “BLU”) BAKTI with cellular phone operators to complete the construction of a telecommunication network infrastructure and to support broadcast transmitters. “The Ministry of Communications and Informatics will perform the duty it is entrusted with using the telecommunication USO (Universal Service Obligation) funds to construct 4G BTS and provide internet access services in various public facilities,” he said. 

There are three strategic issues affected by digital broadcasts in national border areas: National security and sovereignty, solidification of national values and vision, and improvement of human resource intelligence and overall quality. “The strategic importance of our digital television broadcasting in our national borders lies in the regions’ geographic position as the front gate, the front porch of Indonesia, whether in the East, West, North, or South,” he said. 

The Minister further stated that as the country with the biggest population and territorial size in Southeast Asia, it is strongly relevant for Indonesia to ensure equal distribution and access of information to citizens in all parts of the territory, especially in border areas. This will solidify national values and vision. “We need to generate and maintain a sense of belonging with Indonesia, a love for our State and nation and all the great things that they contain. With digital television, we can expect verified information flow from credible sources and Government service information for the people. This will help balance the flow of information from various media,” he said. 

The third strategic value can be seen in the priorities set by President Joko Widodo, who focuses on the improvement of HR quality in his second term. “The digital improvement in the television sector is meant to help improve our people’s intelligence. When border areas have equal access to information with Indonesia’s economic centers, in the next era, the 4.0 Industrial Era, digital networking will not just improve the quality of our technology, but also that of our human resources,” he said. 

At the same event, the Chairwoman of DPR RI’s Commission I, Meutya Hafid, stated that resources in border areas must be secured and protected. Border regions tend to be problematic in terms of both security and welfare. Even worse, they receive much foreign information and broadcasts firsthand. This can be a threat to our unity and integrity, as these neighboring country broadcasts might potentially dilute national identity and a sense of nationalism as a part of Indonesia. “Therefore, in the context of strengthening nationalism, broadcasting in border areas has a strongly strategic role, and consequently it requires serious, holistic handling. This is more than just about “the comfort and convenience of watching shows in national border areas”, it is about maintaining peace and security in these areas,” she said during her address. 

Meutya further stated that some regions, being tourism centers, also have strategic value: “For example, Bali. It doesn’t border any other countries, but it is visited by citizens of many countries, including neighbors like Australia. Easy access to information from various countries also affect us, for example in terms of trade flow, currency exchange rate, and politics. We of Commission I deal with defense, intelligence, and foreign issues other than information. Therefore, our perspective is a holistic one,” she said. “In order to handle the issue, Commission I seeks to create diversity of broadcast content for better quality broadcast. More importantly, it will help us restrict threats from outside and improve national defense in border areas using information. (Dan)