CASBAA hails Indonesian cable-TV plan

CASBAA has applauded the launch of an Indonesian government campaign to regularize the country’s cable-TV industry. Speaking at an August 10 “National Seminar on Pay-TV Broadcasting” that launched the campaign, Bambang Subijantoro, Director of Broadcasting in the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (Depkominfo) noted that Indonesia has a dynamic and rapidly growing pay-TV industry, but that provincial cable companies were largely operating in the “informal” sector, without proper licenses.

The government’s new campaign, Mr. Bambang said, was aimed at correcting that situation, and instilling respect for national laws - including intellectual property law - into the industry. Dr. Andi N. Sommeng, Indonesia’s Director-General of Intellectual Property, noted that re-distributing channels without authorization from the rights holder was illegal, punishable by fines and potentially prison terms.

“This seminar is an excellent start to putting Indonesia’s pay-TV industry on a professional, sustainable footing,” said CASBAA CEO Simon Twiston Davies. “We are very pleased to be part of a public-private partnership supporting this effort. We congratulate our Indonesian partners - led by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (Depkominfo) - on the forthright steps they are taking to deal with the problems of the industry, and set a clear future path for growth and development.”

CASBAA is part of a coalition of government agencies and industry players participating in the just-launched campaign. Local lead organisers include, alongside the Depkominfo, the Indonesian industry association APMI (Asosiasi Penyelenggara Multimedia Indonesia) and the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI).

During the seminar, CASBAA’s views were presented by leading Jakarta IP expert (and founder of the Indonesian Intellectual Property Association) Gunawan Suryomurcito. Mr. Gunawan told the audience that investment in pay-TV provides Indonesia with the opportunity to develop high quality local content that can drive domestic industry growth, and then in turn be distributed internationally.

In his speech to the National Seminar, Mr. Bambang noted that there are estimated to be over 2,700 pay-TV companies in Indonesia, the vast majority of which are small cable companies in provincial areas. Few had the licenses required by law, he said, but with the final judicial reviews of licensing policy completed in 2007, the government was now ready to move forward.

The current program is designed to educate the provincial operators about their responsibilities under the law, and about the need to avoid illegal re-distribution of content. Next, the campaign moves into an “outreach” phase, with seminars and discussions planned in 7 major provincial centres between now and the end of the year.

Following that, Depkominfo is gearing up to put its licensing process into high gear, and after a “grace period” lasting a few months, cable operators will be required to have the requisite licenses, and follow Indonesian IP law on content distribution, or suffer legal penalties.

The National Seminar to launch the event was called by Depkominfo Director-General for Communications and Information Dissemination Freddy H. Tulung. In remarks prepared for the seminar, the Director-General said there are still many pay-TV companies who simply do not understand how to correctly conduct a broadcasting business. The government’s aim, he said, was to show the participants in the industry how they could follow the law, and build their businesses.

“CASBAA will continue to be a strong supporter and active participant in this process,” said Mr. Twiston Davies. “We think this initiative by the Indonesian government and APMI represents the best way to set this industry on a sustainable growth path for the future. It should be a model for other governments in Southeast Asia, where several TV markets are enfeebled by continuing piracy.”

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