The closure of the Suara Perempuan Community Radio and Seha Radio in Aceh
The Banda Aceh-based Suara Perempuan (Women’s Voice) Radio has been forcibly closed down as of Wednesday, July 12, 2006 by the Frequency Monitoring Body, an institution under the authority of the Post and Telecommunication Directorate General of the Communication and Information Ministry. In the Confiscation Order No 01/SP.SITA/B II/PPNS/7/2006, which was signed by a civilian investigator named Junaidi ST, it was written,”This radio is sealed off due to lack of license”.
Asni Juwita, the director of the Suara Perempuan Radio, said that the radio had been on its way to secure the license from the KPID (the regional Indonesia Broadcasting Commission) in Banda Aceh before it was tuned off. The radio station had also been working hard to fulfill the requirements for its official existence. In fact, the Suara Perempuan Radio has also sent a letter to the Frequency Monitoring Body, attaching a confirmation statement from KPID that it is still processing the radio’s license application. The Frequency Monitoring Body, which was backed up by about 20 military police officers, managed to seal off the transmitter of the Suara Perempuan Radio.
Member of KPID Banda Aceh Uzair explained that all radio stations across the country have yet to secure Broadcasting Management License (Ijin Penyelenggaraan Penyiaran/IPP) following a rift between the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) with the Communication and Information Ministry. Both KPI and the government cease the issuance of any broadcasting license since. The closure by the Frequency Monitoring Body is, therefore, a discriminatory action because it only tuned off community radios that have been attempting to get their respective licenses but not to other radio stations under PRSSNI. Uzair revealed that
several radio stations, which have been officially banned by KPI, such as the military-run radio station in Lhokseumawe remains on air.
The Suara Perempuan Radio is not the only radio that has been forcibly turned off. A radio community, Seha, has been off air since Thursday, July 13, 2006 in the Aceh Besar capital of Jantho. The closure was, again, done by the Frequency Monitoring Body that reiterated the same argument: lack of frequency license. Muzakkir of the Seha Radio explained that the closure is nothing new for the radio station, which went on air for the first time in February 2005. The Frequency Monitoring Body once sealed off the radio station due to lack of frequency license but re-opened it later for uncertain reasons.
Across Aceh, radio stations are facing the imminent closure threat due to lack of license. There is no guarantee the authority would let them stay on air in a long term.
Both Muzakkir and Asni Juwita considered that if the authority insists to seal off the radio stations, it must also do the same to all radio stations in Aceh because they, too, have no frequency license in their possession.