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Indonesia: Media Restrictions for Ramadan

(June 30, 2014) As reported on June 24, 2014, the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (Komisi Penyiaran Indonesia, or KPI) has issued a circular to remind television broadcasters not to show material deemed inappropriate for the month-long Islamic holiday of Ramadan or to turn the holiday into a marketing opportunity. (KPI Wants Sex and Violence Off the Air During Ramadhan, JAKARTA POST (June 24, 2014);Indonesian Broadcasting Commission Asks TV Stations to Keep Holy Ramadan, MI’RAJ ISLAMIC NEWS AGENCY (June 25, 2014).) According to the chairman of KPI, Judhariksawan, networks should “only air programs that support activities related to the holy month of Ramadhan.” (KPI Wants Sex and Violence Off the Air During Ramadhan, supra; KPI Minta Lembaga Penyiaran Dukung Pelaksanan Ibadah Bulan Ramadan [KPI Asks Broadcasters to Support Implementation of the Month of Worship of Ramadan], KPI website (June 24, 2014).)

During the observance of Ramadan, programs containing erotic dances, images of female body parts such as breasts or buttocks, or scenes showing kissing or sexual activity are banned. In addition, programs may not show men acting like women, violence, or vulgar jokes. Material that shows some types of conflict, horror scenes, or “mystical or superstitious acts” that may cause members of the public to be afraid are also banned. (KPI Wants Sex and Violence Off the Air During Ramadhan, supra.)

Judhariksawan stated that the agency was working with the Indonesian Ulama Council to monitor all broadcasts during the month. (Id.) The Ulama Council is the highest Muslim clerical body in Indonesia. (Council of Indonesian Ulama, RESOURCES ON FAITH, ETHICS AND PUBLIC LIFE (last visited June 25, 2014).) Judhariksawan announced that the two organizations “will not hesitate to force shows off the air if we find they have the potential to affect people devoted to carrying out religious activities in the holy month.” (KPI Wants Sex and Violence Off the Air During Ramadhan, supra.) In addition, those broadcasters that have programs with religious value that support the holy month may be eligible for awards. (Indonesian Broadcasting Commission Asks TV Stations to Keep Holy Ramadan, supra.)

KPI adopted a Broadcasting and Program Standards Guideline in 2012, which contains the rules to be followed on inappropriate content. (KPI Wants Sex and Violence Off the Air During Ramadhan, supra.) In addition, KPI cited in the recent circular a 2002 Law on Broadcasting. (KPI Minta Lembaga Penyiaran Dukung Pelaksanan Ibadah Bulan Ramadan, supra; Undang-undang Republik Indonesia Nomor 32 Tahun 2002 Tentang Penyiaran [Republic of Indonesia Law No. 32, 2002, on Broadcasting], Ministry of Communications and Information Technology website; for more information on regulation of telecommunications in general in Indonesia, see Daru Lukiantono & Randolph B. Manoe, Indonesia, in GUIDE TO MEDIA AND CONTENT REGULATION IN ASIA PACIFIC 29-34 (2012).)