INDONESIA: TV stations issue guidelines on ethics

In response to public criticism over television broadcasting content, the association of private televisions issued on Thursday a guideline on ethics for broadcasting content and ethics on the business

The Jakarta Post
Friday, December 19, 2003

In response to public criticism over television broadcasting content, the association of private televisions issued on Thursday a guideline on ethics for broadcasting content and ethics on the business.

The leaders of 10 private stations signed an agreement to abide by the guidelines issued in a book published by the Association of Indonesian Private Television Stations (ATVSI).

The guideline was formulated over the past six months and follows a series of discussions with various viewers.

Chairman Karni Ilyas said that it was an attempt at self regulation.

Apart from public pressure on broadcasting content, the television industry also faces the threat of penalties mainly regarding violation of business practices. For instance companies could face up to five years imprisonment and fines of up to Rp 10 billion, if for instance one is found violating the ban on cross ownership in radio and/or print media.

"The guidelines on broadcasting ethics contain guidelines on ethics of content ... while the guidelines on business behavior are about ethical standards of interaction with stakeholders such as suppliers, advertisers, employees, the state, competitors and also ethics regarding intellectual copyright," Karni said.

He added "it will be the public who judges whether the ATVSI members are fulfilling their commitment in applying these guidelines."

The television industry itself would benefit from the guidelines, he said, as everyone in the industry "could avoid the moral ambiguity that is corroding the industry."

The guidelines also serve "to balance the interests of business and social responsibility, which in turn becomes a tool of self regulation."

The television industry has come under fire for what many say have been shows with vulgar content, including wanton violence against women, and over exposure of celebrities' lives. However, many viewers also say they relish such programs, which is evident in the high ratings, and expensive ad revenue, that such programs have.

Karni added that public feedback would be used to improve the ethical guidelines.