Analysis: Why big tech's pushback against Jokowi’s new media regulation could be bad news for Indonesian people

JAKARTA/SINGAPORE: Online platforms, news publishers, and the government must collaborate and reach agreements that are for the good of the Indonesia public, say analysts, following the introduction of a regulation on mandating digital platforms to pay media companies in Indonesia that provide them with content.

The regulation was signed by Indonesian president Joko Widodo on Tuesday (Feb 20) in a move to level the playing field between media and big tech companies. It will take effect six months after its date of issue.

“The spirit of the regulation is to … provide (a) clearer cooperation framework between them,” said Mr Widodo.

However, the regulation has already received pushback from Meta, the parent company of platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. The tech company has insisted that it does not need to pay for the news content circulating on its platforms. 

Analysts and industry players tell CNA that any divisions will be at the expense of the Indonesian people, especially as the news has a role to play in improving the country’s digital literacy, democracy and public safety. 

According to the chairperson of the Digital Literacy National Movement – also known as SIBERKREASI – Donny Bu, Indonesia has more than 221.5 million internet users who use social media as the primary channel to access information and digital content.

REVITALISING MEDIA WITH NEW REVENUE STREAMS

The secretary-general of the Indonesian Cyber Media Association (AMSI) praised the regulation as a source of income for the media.

“(This is) at a time when the media is experiencing a decline in income (through the loss of advertising revenue) due to the presence of global platforms such as Google,” Mr Maryadi – who like many Indonesians goes by one name – told CNA. 

Mr Suwarjono, the editor-in-chief of news site suara.com, shared that the news industry is now not in good condition, especially after the pandemic and due to the artificial intelligence (AI) era. 

“Disruption not only changes reader behaviour, but also changes the media business model which is no longer centered on news media. (It) moves a lot of … influencers and key opinion leaders to digital platforms,” he told CNA. 

He observed that in addition to introducing a new revenue potential for news sites, the regulation will also serve the public interest so that the digital space is not flooded with “junk information”. 

“The dominance of media business models (that rely on achieving pageviews) has contributed to the emergence of a lot of sensational content, clickbait, and content that relies too much on speed at the expense of accuracy and completeness of facts,” said Mr Suwarjono. 

BIG TECH PUSHES BACK  

A committee must be formed to ensure that digital platforms fulfil their obligations, according to the regulation. 

Chairman of the Press Council, Ms Ninik Rahayu, said that such obligations include aiding professional commercialisation, ensuring that news shared is produced only by press companies, and not facilitating the dissemination of inappropriate news content. 

She noted, however, that the regulation cannot accommodate all requests, and that it is necessary to find a common ground.

“We still have a lot to prepare in the next six months (when the regulation comes into force),” she told CNA.

A day after the regulation was introduced, technology giant Meta’s Director of Public Policy for Southeast Asia Mr Rafael Frankel, said that despite the new regulation, the firm is not obliged to pay for news content posted by publishers voluntarily.

According to CNN Indonesia, Meta claimed that its users do not go to its platforms to look for news content, and that news publishers have instead voluntarily decided to share its content on their various platforms and not the other way around.

Mr Noudhy Valdrino, the former head of Indonesia Public Policy at Meta, told CNA that Meta platforms do not actually benefit from spreading news content. 

He stressed that the government must take a balanced approach to the issue and consider both the interest of press companies as well as the importance of credible news information. 

This is especially since it is in the interest of the Indonesian people to have access to news reports, especially from widely used Meta platforms, said Mr Noudhy. 

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South Korea and Japan beef up military export trade, showcase defence capabilities at Singapore Airshow

JAPAN EYEING ASIAN MARKET

Meanwhile, Japan is also courting the foreign market following a shift in the country’s security policy, which opened its local defence industry to the global market.
 
It is eyeing Asia, where defence spending is on the rise due to economic growth and China’s military expansion.
 
Japan’s defence ministry has set up a booth at the Singapore Airshow for the first time, showcasing its capabilities from aircraft manufacturing to communications. It has also brought along 13 Japanese companies with the aim of supporting sales to other countries.
 
Both Japan and South Korea are the United States’ most important allies in Asia.
 
“For the case of Japan and Korea especially, they are very integrated into the Western supply chain. They’re interoperable with western systems,” said Aviation Week Network’s Asia Pacific senior correspondent Chen Chuanren. 
 
“And I think more importantly is that given what’s happening around the world, many countries are looking to get military equipment fast and urgently, and (Korea, in particular,) has the capacity and the capability to generate and produce military equipment very easily for these countries.”

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Global debut for China's homegrown C919 jet at Singapore Airshow - but can it break Airbus-Boeing's duopoly?

“From a timing perspective, given Boeing’s situation, airlines around the world are more keen these days to consider a third option when looking at narrow-body aircraft campaigns,” said Mr Sobie.

TURBULENCE IN A GLOBAL TAKE-OFF

That being said, China faces major headwinds in its ambitions to stamp its mark on global passenger aviation.

Regulatory hurdles are the sticking point, say analysts as they point out that COMAC’s C919 has not been certified by US and European aviation regulators. Only Chinese regulators have certified the C919 thus far, giving the green light in September 2022.

Getting approval from regulators like those in the US and Europe are “most crucial” in becoming “widely accepted” and operating globally in international skies, Mr Shantanu told CNA.

According to Reuters, China’s aviation authority said last month it would this year pursue European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) validation for the C919, a process which began in 2018.

“The industry is currently in wait and see mode … be it certification or order fulfilment amongst other factors,” said Mr Shantanu.

Another obstacle confronting COMAC is the C919’s exposure to geopolitical risk and supply chain issues, due to its reliance on imported parts and technology.

A 2020 analysis by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a US think tank, estimated that more than 80 per cent of the C919’s major component suppliers were from the US and Europe.

“All the systems, engines, and avionics that make the C919 fly are Western,” said Mr Richard Aboulafia, managing director of aviation consultancy AeroDynamic Advisory.

“If they want a true (Chinese) aircraft, one that allows them to be self-sufficient for some reason, that will take many more billions of dollars and many more years than they have already invested in the C919,” Mr Aboulafia added.

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China plans to send more pandas to US zoo

The last remaining pandas in the United States, currently at a zoo in the southern city of Atlanta, are due to return to China by late 2024. But after a meeting last year with US President Joe Biden, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said that China could send new pandas asContinue Reading