Indonesia's TV stations told to stop political ads

Many of the trishaws in Medan are decorated with faces and election details of MPs vying to be elected on April 9, the day of national elections in indonesia.

JAKARTA - The Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) has officially ordered TV stations RCTI and Global TV to stop broadcasting two quiz shows, Kuis Kebangsaan (Nationalism Quiz) and Indonesia Cerdas (Smart Indonesia), for promoting the interests of the People's Conscience (Hanura) Party.

KPI chairman Judhariksawan said both shows violated the Broadcasting Code of Conduct and Program Standards (P3SPS) by promoting the political platform of Hanura, with which the stations' owner, Hary Tanoesoedibjo, is affiliated.

Hary is the vice presidential aspirant for Hanura.

"Besides promoting Hanura's legislative candidate and the party's presidential ticket of Wiranto and Hary Tanoesoedibjo, the programs use 'Bersih, Peduli, Tegas' [Clean, Caring, Firm] which is the tagline of the party," Judhariksawan said.

The KPI has previously reprimanded RCTI and Global TV on two occasions, telling them to stop the programs or change the content.

The commission issued the final call for the two stations to suspend the programs after they failed to heed the first two reprimands.

"They can air the programs again if they are willing to drop all material that we consider to be non-neutral. They must drop the party's tagline, the presence of Hanura's legislative, presidential and vice presidential candidates during the shows and also avoid repeating the keyword WIN-HT during the shows," Judhariksawan said.

He said that the sanction on RCTI and Global TV should as a lesson for every television station in the country to avoid airing any programme that has ties to political interests.

The KPI previously struck a deal with the General Elections Commission (KPU) and the Election Supervisory Committee (Bawaslu) to ensure that tougher sanctions would be given to errant television stations.

"We will not think twice before imposing sanctions on any broadcaster that is proven to violate the Broadcasting Law," he said.

Contacted separately, Media Nusantara Citra (MNC) group director David Audy said MNC would honour the KPI's decision and that the matter had been discussed internally.

David added that representatives from both stations had met with the KPI to express their commitment to complying with the decision.

"We are ready to discuss this issue with the KPI and to cooperate with them. We are open to any suggestions for finding the best solution to this problem," he said.

Last month, a civil society group which calls itself Frequencies Belong to the Public (FMP) - comprising the Information and Communication Technology Watch, Indonesian Communication Students Association and private channel watchdog Remotivi - staged a rally to demand that the KPI get tough on private television stations that promote the interests of political parties affiliated with the owners of the stations.

Other than RCTI and Global TV, other stations affiliated with politicians include ANTV, TVOne and Metro TV. ANTV and TVOne are owned by the Golkar Party's presidential candidate Aburizal Bakrie, while Metro TV is owned by NasDem Party chairman Surya Paloh.