The public can file a class action against a decree issued by Communication and Information Technology Minister Tifatul Sembiring on television digitalization in Indonesia, a seminar concluded in Jakarta on Sunday.
The group of lawmakers and businesses meeting to discuss the move to change Indonesia’s television broadcasts from analogue to digital found that a premature switch to digital would limit frequency ownership to just a few TV media conglomerates.
That would limit the public’s choice and access to television frequency, therefore the public had a right to file a suit.
Helmy Fauzi, from the House of Representatives’ Commission I, which oversees information issues, said the ministerial decree limited public ownership of TV frequencies because it essentially aimed to turn public assets (free-to-air television) over to private ownership (digital television).
Under the global plan commenced by the International Telecommunication Union in 2006, all countries should move from analogue broadcasting to digital broadcasting by June 2015. Considering the country’s landscape, Indonesia has decided to go digital by 2018, but the decree asks that television companies start to prepare now.
Media activist Ahmad Faisol, from MediaLink, told the discussion that the fact that the minister rushed to issue a decree requiring digitalization showed that the government only listened to big corporate players.
“The premature digitalization has drawn a lot of criticism from the public. Still, the minister issued a decree that is pro-capital owners,” he said.
Ahmad and Helmy agreed that the decree would advantage media conglomerates because only a handful of companies would be able to afford to make the switch from analogue to digital, given the high cost involved in the process.
Previously, local TV owners who invested heavily in analogue technology complained that they stood to lose a lot of money if they were pushed to make the change to digital immediately.
However, MNC Group, a major television and media holding company, has reportedly said it was ready to spend Rp 4 trillion to Rp 5 trillion ($444 million to $555 million) to replace its 100 analogue broadcast transmitters.