House and Government strive to protect television industry in a digital era

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Minister of Communications and Information Technology Johnny G. Plate. (Photo: IO/Rayi Gigih)

IO – According to the statistics compiled by the Directorate General of Postal and Informatics Resources and Facilities (Sumber Daya Perangkat Pos dan Informatika – “SDPPI”) of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology up until Semester I of 2018, Indonesia is the country with the highest number of television stations in the world, at 1,018 Public Broadcasting Agencies / Private Broadcasting Agencies distributed in 34 provinces. 

Minister of Communications and Information Technology Johnny G. Plate stated that digitalization is an effort to prevent the television industry from setting. Therefore, the Government joined Commission I of the House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat – “DPR”) in encouraging the digitalization of television in the Revised Broadcast Law. The revision of this Law is included in the 2019-2024 National Legislation Program. “New applications will come with new technology. If we don’t manage the broadcasting industry properly, it will become a sunset industry,” he said as he opened a Young Indonesian Entrepreneurs’ Association (Himpunan Pengusaha Muda Indonesia – “Hipmi”) Webinar on Tuesday (09/06/2020). “The setting of 11 television media can be seen from the continued increase of the number of audiences on the internet. This will redirect ad expenditures to the net.” 

Digitalization is a major issue when revising the Broadcast Law. Digital transformation of television is also included in the Job Creation Omnibus Draft Law. In the Draft Law, the Government stipulates that the transformation be completed within at most two years after the regulation is enacted. Digitalization will allow the television industry to work with the same rules of the game as the newly-developing digital industry. “The older industry must be maintained, but we must also provide space for new industries,” Johnny said. 

Strategic issues in broadcasting have been suggested in the Job Creation Omnibus Draft Law. These include ease of doing business, capitalization, digitalization of terrestrial television broadcasts, deadline for analog switch off, and Non-Tax State Income levy for broadcasting permits. “The suggestions in the Broadcasting Law include attributive authority in the national broadcasting system, broadcasting services for digital broadcasting business model, Radio Television of the Republic of Indonesia, the Indonesian Broadcast Commission, and the dissemination of important information,” he said. 

Request for Guarantee 

In response to these plans, the Association of Indonesia’s Privately-Owned Television (Asosiasi Televisi Swasta Indonesia – “ATVSI”) requests that the Draft Broadcast Law, which is still being processed in the DPR, include guarantees for a number of existing conventional television stations in digitalization. ATVSI’s General Chairman Syafril Nasution stated that digitalization is an obligation and necessity. “However, we hope that with digitalization, the survival of existing television businesses is to be guaranteed after such a huge investment.” 

Syafril stated that before digitalization can be implemented, all aspects such as regulation and digitalization system planning must be prepared. Furthermore, analog-based television sets are still widely sold in the market. In other words, a lot of businesses are not ready to turn digital. “Not all shops, manufacturers provide digital television. Furthermore, only 12 out of 34 provinces are being prepared for digitalization. Naturally, everything requires a process. Therefore, if possible, we would like to request the Minister to allow us in the broadcasting industry some breathing space, so that we can prepare for ASO or automatic switch off from analog to digital, so that everything can be performed in time,” he said. 

Syafril further stated that both conventional and digital television media must have equal regulation, both in terms of rule content and tax payment. Finally, national advertisement film broadcasters must have rules that apply to all virtual providers of film and video, which will uphold the nation’s sovereignty. “These rules are meant to prevent them from damaging order in our nation, from damaging our unity, by keeping everything under control,” he said. 

Member of DPR RI’s Commission I, Dave Akbarshah, guarantees that our television industry is ready to enter the digital era. The new Law will clearly state the deadline for ASO that applies to everyone. Timetables will be set for ASO preparation. 85% of our television industry is ready for ASO and change to digital operations. There are means to perform the transformation for those who are not ready. Later on, the Revised Broadcasting Law will serve as an equal playing field between existing conventional television channels and the developing digital television. This will provide investment certainty. “The Revised Broadcasting Law will protect the industry and provide opportunity and legal certainty by providing clear tax rulings for the digital broadcast sector. The problem is that the digital sector has never been taxed before,” he said. 

Similarly, Sugiono, fellow Member of DPR RI’s Commission I, stated that transforming from analog to digital would not only protect existing television industry, but also help stations to provide quality content and programs that the people can accept. He criticizes today’s television for providing only “dream” or unrealistic content. “That does not educate the people or increase productivity. We need to take note of this,” he said. 

Sugiono further stated that as long as any ruling for public needs is based on Article 33 Paragraph 2 of the Constitution, which states that “All branches of production that are important for the State and that deal with the interest of the public is controlled by the State,” such ruling would not cause any conflict. “This includes rules for broadcasting agencies. However, other than for protecting existing industry, digitalization is inevitable. Complying with it will give everyone the same opportunity, thus providing a supportive environment for the growth of the digital television industry,” he said. (dan)