Saturday, March 17, 2007

Community radios under pressure?

Despite my latest posts about the virtues of community radio, the government seems to be going the other way around.

Last week, some Jakarta community radios were "ordered off the airwaves"; they were claimed to be interfering with the navigation system in Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in East Jakarta.

Unfortunately, it's not clear whether this interference is true. The frequency used for aviation radio is 118.3 MHz. However, Jawis FM, a school-based community radio that uses the 107.6 FM frequency at a meager 50 watt power was also told to stop its broadcasting activities. So was the Suara Warga Jakarta (Voice of Jakartans) radio, whose power only extends to a mere 2.5 kilometers radius.

So the question is: have the government followed the necessary procedure? Do they actually have proof of which radios are interfering with aviation frequency?

Does this progress have any correlation with the closing down of some 14 radios in Sorong, West Papua, late last year? Here's what I read from a credible source: These radios were said to be "caught red-handed" committing crime and jeopardizing national stability. And the interesting part: the procedure is that before closing down a radio, the government should provide information/guidance, and then a warning letter. However, at that time, the officer only had a general letter from the Ministry of ICT about "reporting the existence" of radios.

What's going on here?

Does the government still consider community broadcasting 'scary'? Adhi Wicaksana thinks that regulations concerning community radio are, at best, still at odds with each other.

Despite all this, do consider a few more great examples of community radio role:
  • The Jakarta Community Radio, "established in 2003 as a communication tool for local residents", has "the only radio program of its kind in the capital, perhaps the entire country, dedicated to the interests and needs of the disabled community."
  • The community radio in Wiladeg, Central Java, is giving the people a media to practice democracy and good governance.
  • The Voice of Muhammadiyah Radio in Aceh provides a service for tsunami-affected communities to trace missing relatives.

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  1. this is (again) an example of ignoring local people's capacity. by using technical words (frequency, inferring, navigation system etc)which might be confusing, the government attempt to cover their interest. may be there is an interest of private radios who lost their audience (also revenue from ads, perhaps).

  2. thanks for introducing me to the new knowledge of community radio. will learn about it more. salam.

  3. Pelantjong, the "safety" argument is as valid as the "interest" argument, especially in big cities, where frequency is filled due to large number of radios, and getting a frequency allocation is expensive.

    Aroengbinang, you're welcome. You may want to check out for more info.