Stricter rules sought as media moguls enter Indonesia's presidential race

Election organizers and the nation's broadcast commission said they were now devising stricter regulations on media campaigns after at least two of the nation's media tycoons had declared their bids to join the 2014 presidential race.

General Elections Commission (KPU) commissioner Ferry Kurnia Rizkiyansyah said the commission was trying to formulate stronger points in regulating political campaigns in the media, particularly on television, which as of today still has the largest audience.

"We are currently discussing the matter with the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission [KPI] and the Elections Supervisory Committee [Bawaslu]. We want fair and proportional political campaigns in the media for the election," he said.

Ferry said there would be a regulation to limit the duration of campaign advertisements on television for each political party.

Based on data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), television is still the number one source of news and entertainment for most Indonesians. The data from 2012 showed that 91.7 per cent of all Indonesians over the age of 10 watched television, while 18.57 per cent listened to radio and only 17.66 per cent read newspapers and magazines.

Communications expert Ade Armando said that parties with strong media affiliations would have a greater chance to influence political preferences among the public, given the fact that television was still the public's main source of information. "The thing is that these parties have myriad opportunities to appear on their television stations' regular programs, and not only during the political campaign period," he said.

The People's Conscience (Hanura) Party, the Golkar Party and the National Democrat (NasDem) Party are three of the 15 political parties participating in the 2014 elections that have powerful media tycoons in senior positions, two of whom have openly declared their bids to enter the presidential election.

Hary Tanoesoedibjo, who is Hanura's election campaign team chairman and former member of NasDem, owns media giant PT Media Nusantara Citra, which runs 20 television stations including three national terrestrial stations RCTI, Global TV and MNC TV. Golkar chairman Aburizal Bakrie has two television stations, TVOne and ANTV, while NasDem chairman Surya Paloh runs news-based television channel MetroTV.

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