Govt acting beyond authority in Star TV dispute: KPI

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) has said Information and Communication Minister Sofyan A. Djalil acted beyond his authority in the dispute between Asian media company Star TV and local pay-TV operator Indovision.

"The minister does not have the right to issue an injunction banning Star TV from airing due to monopoly practices in giving distribution rights only to Indonesian pay-TV operator Direct Vision," KPI deputy chairman Sinansari Ecip told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

"It is the right of the Commission of Supervision of Business Competition (KPPU) to decide whether Star TV's actions contravene the 1999 Anti-monopoly Law."

He said the minister should have waited for the commission to issue a verdict before announcing any possible injunctions.

Sinansari also said the monopoly allegations directed at Star TV seemed inappropriate because other Indonesian pay-TV operators had also received distribution contracts from the company owned by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch.

"It is just merely a business competition," he said, and declined to comment on whether the minister's actions were compromised by business or political interests.

Separately, KPPU member Mohammad Iqbal said the government's issuance of an injunction was a normal procedure and part of its role as a regulator.

"We assume that the injunction is the minister's authority and we don't have the right to judge whether it is appropriate or not," he said, "as long as they don't interfere further in this case."

He said a KPPU team would scrutinize Indovision's report to the commission and investigate if any violations had occurred.

The normal process of issuing a verdict will take four months, Iqbal said.

Responding the government's plan to ban Star TV from airing if KPPU had not issued a verdict within two months, Iqbal said it was up to the government as long as it was in accordance with the regulations.

However, Sinansari doubted that the government would comply with its own regulations.

He agreed that the many cases of troubled broadcasting licenses in Indonesia indicated the government had yet to fully understand the 2002 Law on Broadcasting.

"We can see the government's confusion in implementing the regulations. In the Direct Vision case, for example, we know that before revoking its license, the government had given it a multimedia and telecommunications permit," he said. "It shows the inconsistency.

"What is important now is that the government must follow the existing regulations, including the 2002 Broadcasting Law, and cooperate with other institutions if necessary," he said.

"If not, the poor law enforcement will affect not only businessmen and investors but also consumers and the public," Sinasarai said.
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