Fri, 05 Dec 2003

House screens KPI candidates

Urip Hudiono, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The House of Representatives subcommission for communications and information began to assess on Thursday the suitability of candidates for membership of the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI), paying much attention to their integrity and independence.

When grilling Bimo Nugroho, Mochamad Sukarna, Mahayoni, Wahyu S. Hadiardoyo and Dedi Iskandar Muda, the legislators were curious about the candidates' responses to questions about commercialization of the mass media and possible links to broadcasting moguls.

The legislators did not, however, explore the candidates' vision of the KPI as a regulator of the national broadcasting industry.

Sukarna and Wahyu were questioned on their employment by broadcasting companies opposed to the formation of the KPI.

Sukarna, who is now the general manager of private channel ANTeve and was previously at LaTivi, asserted there would be no conflict of interest if he were chosen, while Wahyu said he had quit Radio Muslim.

ANTeve and LaTivi are members of the Association of Private Television Broadcasters, while Radio Muslim is a member of the Association of Private Radio Stations.

Both associations have been opposing Law No.32/2002 on broadcasting and the formation of the KPI on the ground that they posed a threat to press freedom.

Meanwhile, Dedi was questioned on his status as a civil servant as head of the South Kalimantan branch of state TV channel TVRI. In his reply, Dedi said he would resign from his post if he were chosen.

During his session, Bimo, the director of the Institute for the Free Flow of Information (ISAI), told the lawmakers of his plan to develop the KPI as a democratic regulator. He said he would cooperate with the broadcasting industry and be transparent in the reorganization and allocation of broadcasting frequencies.

Meanwhile, Dedi proposed short-term cooperation between the KPI and the General Elections Commission (KPU) to strictly regulate broadcast campaigns during the election campaign next year.

The screening will continue on Friday with six candidates. The government nominated 27 candidates who will vie for nine seats on the KPI.

Law No.32/2002 on broadcasting orders that the government establish the KPI by Dec. 28, 2003.