Press Council Represents State in Safeguarding National Press

The plenary ruling hearing of the judicial review of the Press Law to hear the Press Council’s witnesses, Thursday (4/21/2022). Photo by Humas MK.

Thursday, April 21, 2022 | 14:01 WIB

JAKARTA, Public Relations—As a semi-state institution, the Press Council represents the community and the state to ensure press freedom and is tasked with ensuring that press companies and organizations comply with their code of ethics. In addition, it also acts as a mediator for the national press so that it remains different from press organizations. In other words, the Press Council represents the country in safeguarding the national press, said Bambang Sardono, a witness for the Press Council (Relevant Party) at the material judicial review hearing of Law No. 40 of 1999 on the Press on Thursday, April 21, 2022.

The ninth hearing for case No. 38/PUU-XIX/2021 was presided over by Chief Justice Anwar Usman and the other eight constitutional justices. The case was filed by three journalists and chairpersons of press companies and legal entity press organizations—Heintje Grontson Mandagie, Hans M. Kawengian, and Soegiharto Santoso.

“So, the Press Council must be singular because it was given the authority to make regulations that not only apply internally in the press as long as they do not conflict with the existing laws and regulations, but also publicly. Thus, the Press Council can be said to be an anchor that replaces the government’s position,” said Bambang.

Also read: 

Press Council’s Function in Drafting Regulations Called into Question

Govt: Press Council Facilitates Lawmaking in Press


Bambang, who had once been part of the working committee for the discussion of the Press Bill, said that the Press Law was reformist. The 1998 Reform was followed by the formation of the Law, alongside other Laws. Therefore, it had been reformist and responsive.

“[The Press Law] was formed with a strong spirit of reform and ended the suppression of the press that had plagued [the nation] in the past. [It] was discussed for 15 days under the press community’s close observation. Meanwhile, in terms of legal drafting, there was no delegation to any implementing regulations, so everything is described in the a quo Law. In short, this Law was a vote of no confidence in the government at that time. So, there was no government mandate to manage the press. In addition, this Law became a channel for managing the press by reforming the Press Council that had regulated itself. So, this Law eliminated the government’s control over the press,” he explained.

Also read:

Press Freedom Chaos Will Ensue If All Organizations Make Regulations 

Press Council’s Regulations Impair Journalists’ Rights

Journalist Competency Test

Maria Dian, one of the drafters of journalist competency standards, who also testified as a witness for the Relevant Party, talked about the competency standards and testing for journalists. A journalist is an open profession for anyone who regularly carries out journalistic activities and conveys it in text, sound, image, or other forms using print and other media.

“Competency testing is a necessary thing because journalists are tasked with disseminating information and forming public opinion, so that they must have independence and give voice to those who do not have it,” she explained.

Also read: House: Press Council Maintains Quality of the Press

The competency testing, Maria said, was formed by mutual agreement as stated in the Palembang Charter in 2010. These competency standards were compiled and formalized in the Press Council Regulation No. 1 of 2010. A journalist is categorized as a professional if they have the skills to carry out their duties and roles. The competency test can be taken by journalists according to their level—junior level for beginner journalists, intermediate level for those who manage or act as coordinators, and high level for editorial leadership.

“Any participant declared passing the test must score over 70 and the journalists must be able to pass the subjects, for example, applying journalistic ethics. Those who do not show up for the test and follow the 11 units or commit violations will fail the test,” she said.

Also read: Bagir Manan: Press Council Makes Rules Based on Convention

At the preliminary hearing, the Petitioners asserted that as press companies and legal entity press organizations, their right to form an independent Press Council and to vote for and be elected as Press Council members democratically had been oppressed. In addition, they believe the provision has prevented them from appointing and inaugurating Press Council members. The Petitioners organized a national press congress in 2019, in which its members were appointed. However, due to Article 15 paragraph (5) of the Press Law, the results of the congress were not responded by the president.

They also believe Article 15 paragraph (2) letter f of the Press Law must be reviewed because it had led to press organizations losing their right to formulate regulations in press. The Press Council interprets the a quo article that they have the authority to draft and stipulate regulations in press. Therefore, Article 15 paragraph (2) letter f of the Press Law contradicts Article 28, Article 28C paragraph (2), Article 28D paragraph (1), Article 28E paragraph (3), Article 28H paragraph (2), and Article 28I paragraph (2) of the 1945 Constitution insofar as not interpreted as “in forming regulations in the press by each press organization” as it limits the press organizations’ right to develop freedom of the press and uphold the basic values of democracy, promote the rule of law and human rights, respect diversity, exercise supervision, critique, provide corrections and recommendations on public matters, as well as fight for truth and justice.

Before concluding the hearing, Chief Justice Anwar Usman informed the litigants that the hearing would commence on Thursday, May 19, 2022 at 11:00 to hear the Press Council’s witness and witness and expert for the Indonesian Journalists Association (PWI).

Writer        : Sri Pujianti
Editor        : Lulu Anjarsari P.
PR            : Andhini S. F.
Translator  : Yuniar Widiastuti (NL)

Translation uploaded on 4/22/2022 08:32 WIB

Disclaimer: The original version of the news is in Indonesian. In case of any differences between the English and the Indonesian versions, the Indonesian version will prevail.

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