An interesting court case in Indonesia aims to answer the question, has the internet in effect replaced broadcasting? Indonesia’s Broadcast Law uses a broad definition of what broadcasting is. As in many other countries it aims to manage the number of broadcasting organizations, issue expensive licenses and control content. There is a Ministerial department and a Broadcasting Commission overseeing them. There are restrictions on foreign ownership, rules on content, advertising and must-carry rules (which means certain local content must be shown).
Indonesia’s Constitutional Court (MK) is now being asked to conduct a judicial review of the Broadcast Law in a case filed by one of the country’s leading TV networks, MNC. They argue that Netflix and YouTube, which are offering live streaming services are caught by the definition of broadcast. Their position is that there is no level playing field, that they are required to have broadcast permits and follow many restrictions, but digital content distributors do not.
The Ministry of Communications and Infomatics (KOMINFO) has given evidence that if the court agrees with MNC, that they would need to shut down all live streaming services, (known locally as Over The Top or OTT services), including Facebook Live, YouTube and other internet services.
The problem is that the internet is gradually eating into the traditional broadcast sector. Twitter users have jumped in to criticize the case as grasping, from a dying industry with weak content and a profit motive. These commentators contrast it to the diverse, free, more creative (they say) digital streaming sector. MNC would probably argue one of the reasons their industry is suffering is the heavy regulatory burden which a Facebook or YouTube live streamer abroad does not have.
Perhaps the case is leverage to pressure Parliament to reduce broadcast restrictions. Traditionally this is an area with political and sovereignty concerns. But the internet has overridden this now. Broadcasters need a simplified regulatory environment; if not they say, they face a difficult future.