Google says proposed media rule in Indonesia could harm press, limit information

Nazarudin Latif
Google says proposed media rule in Indonesia could harm press, limit information This combination of pictures created on April 25, 2023, shows logos of online platforms, applications, social networks and technology and IT companies.

A forthcoming Indonesian regulation that would force online content distribution platforms to share revenue with media companies will harm the press and limit the flow of information, one such distributor, Google, has warned.

The regulation will ensure good journalism by giving a committee comprising Press Council members, academics and government officials the authority to decide what content can appear on these platforms, the government says in defense. 

Google, which has complied with similar rules in the European Union and Australia, said it had communicated its views to the Indonesian government.

“[T]he latest draft of a news regulation in Indonesia, if implemented without change, would be unworkable,” Michaela Browning, Google’s Asia-Pacific vice president for government affairs and public policy, wrote in a blog post Tuesday. 

“Instead of promoting quality journalism, it could restrict public access to diverse sources of news by giving powers to a single, non-government body to decide what content is allowed to appear online and which publishers are allowed to earn revenue from advertising.”

The draft “Presidential Regulation on Digital Platform Companies’ Responsibility to Support Quality Journalism” has been submitted for the president’s signature, a senior official at the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology told BenarNews.

It contains provisions on cooperation between global platforms and press outlets, a committee to oversee the rule, and funding for quality journalism. 

The rule would require online platforms to remove news that violates journalistic ethics, and press law, and is copied from elsewhere without permission. It would also require them to share data on user activity from news content owned by press outlets.

But Google says the rule would limit the news available online by favoring a few publishers over thousands of others. 

Indonesia has more than 170 million internet users, and a vibrant and diverse media landscape with more than 47,000 registered news outlets, although traditional media is seeing declining revenue.

But the country also faces challenges because of low media literacy and rampant misinformation.

The rule is therefore meant to ensure media sustainability and quality journalism, said Usman Kansong, a director general at the communication and information technology ministry.

“The rule only limits news that breaks journalistic ethics and the press law, not all news,” he told BenarNews.

Press Council Chairwoman Ninik Rahayu concurred, adding that the rule would be a vital step that safeguards good journalism.

“This rule’s main goal is for the state to ensure that the public gets accurate and credible information and to foster a healthy environment for quality journalism,” she said in a statement on July 21.

Indonesia’s proposed rule is similar to those adopted by other countries, such as Australia and the European Union – to address the imbalance of power between global online platforms and local news publishers. 

They also seek to protect media diversity, good journalism and public interest

Google had last year agreed to pay more than 300 publishers in the European Union for their news, and signed a similar agreement in Australia in 2021, although it said last month it planned to block Canadian news on its platform there, joining Meta.

For media observer Agus Sudibyo, it was a simple matter of sharing revenue. 

Media companies produce content that drives traffic on online platforms. That traffic earns these platforms money, so they ought to pay the content producers.“Publishers’ rights exist in the European Union and Australia. Google accepted them, why not accept it in Indonesia?” he told BenarNews.

“It will improve the media ecosystem, because there is content sharing that also makes good revenue sharing.”


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