Mon, 22 Aug 1994

Government to regulate laser disc circulation

JAKARTA (JP): The government will issue a regulation on laser discs later this month to end the decade old controversy over the legality of their circulation in Indonesia.

Along with the laser disc regulation, the Ministry of Information will issue two decrees on the renaming of the National Film Censorship Body and the establishment of the National Film Advisory Council, which will replace it.

It is unclear if the duties of the state film institution will be restructured.

Alex Leo Zulkarnain, the Director General for Radio, Television and Film, said on Friday that the circulation of laser discs will eventually be legalized.

The government will announce the legal status of every imported laser disc once it has been screened by the advisory council, which will determine whether it will be released to the public without censorship, or be censored, or totally prohibited.

At present, laser discs are banned under Ministry of Information Regulation No. 20/1983. This regulation has not been enforced effectively and discs are openly on sale and for rent.

The 1983 regulation was issued following reports of illegal door-to-door distribution of smuggled laser discs.

However, crackdowns on disc sales are rarely heard of except when the films are considered pornographic. Because the legal status of the commodity remained dubious, the now defunct censorship body was never properly equipped to censor discs.


Alex also said the Ministry of Finance was still evaluating the possibility of merging the state-run Radio Republik Indonesia (RRI) with Televisi Republik Indonesia (TVRI) into one state- owned enterprise.

The plan to merge the two state-owned electronic mass media into one enterprise was first made public last year.

Alex said that merging the two state-run enterprises was not as simple as many people might think because each has different characteristics.

The new enterprise must be profit-oriented, while as individual journalistic institutions, RRI and TVRI are supposed to maintain their non-profit service idealism, Alex said.

"We'll have to carefully compile a law on the resulting state- owned firm if we want to merge them," Alex was quoted by the Antara news agency as saying.

He said he remained undecided, when asked if TVRI would eventually be allowed to air commercials as many people keep suggesting to reduce its financial dependence on state funds.

"TVRI will surely air commercials if the House of Representatives requires it to do so," he said.

The government banned commercials on TVRI in the early 1980s on the grounds that the programs "encouraged consumerism" among the populace. Only private-sector television stations air advertisements at present. (02)