Indonesia to Require Digital Platforms to Pay for Media Content, President Says

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ASEAN Beat | Economy | Southeast Asia

Indonesia to Require Digital Platforms to Pay for Media Content, President Says

The policy is the latest instance in which Jakarta has flexed its regulatory muscles against the big foreign tech firms.

Indonesia to Require Digital Platforms to Pay for Media Content, President Says
Credit: Depositphotos

On Tuesday, Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced that he had signed a regulation requiring digital platforms to pay media outlets that provide them with content.

In announcing the President’s Decree on Publisher’s Rights, the Indonesian leader said that the rules were designed to “ensure a fair cooperation between media and digital platforms.”

“The government is not regulating press content, but regulates the business relationship between the press and digital platforms,” he said in a speech during a National Press Day celebration in Jakarta, New Straits Times reported.

“We also want to ensure the sustainability of the national media industry, we want a fairer cooperation between newspaper companies and digital platforms,” he added. “We want to provide a clear legal framework.”

First proposed two years ago, the law is inspired by similar legislation in other countries, including Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code, which requires that Google and Meta, Facebook’s parent company, compensate media organizations for content posted to their platforms. Since coming into effect in March 2021, “Google and Facebook (now Meta) have reached voluntary commercial agreements with a significant number of news media organizations.”

According to a Reuters report, a Google spokesperson said that it planned to review the regulation and that it “has worked with news publishers and the government to build a sustainable news ecosystem in Indonesia,” in the news agency’s paraphrase.

Facebook’s parent company Meta responded yesterday by saying that it believes the law will not require it to pay news publishers for content they voluntarily post to its platforms. “Following multiple rounds of consultations with the government, we understand Meta will not be required to pay for news content that publishers voluntarily post to our platforms,” Reuters quoted Rafael Frankel, Meta’s director of public policy for Southeast Asia, as saying.

The move reflects the growing willingness of Southeast Asian governments to flex their regulatory muscles to ensure that the interests of foreign tech giants align with their own economic and political interests. This is unsurprising, given the extent to which social media has come to dominate the public spheres of these countries. The region includes four of the 10 nations with the largest Facebook user bases in the world and three of the 10 with the largest number of TikTok users.

This has taken the form of efforts to force the removal of “misinformation” or false content, or content deemed to have violated local laws, and for these firms to store data locally.

Indonesia, which boasts the world’s third-largest group of Facebook users and second-largest pool of those using TikTok, has been among the active countries in this respect. Last year, it banned e-commerce transactions on social media networks, in order to safeguard the livelihoods of tens of millions of small business owners, dealing a major blow to TikTok’s regional expansion plans. It has also introduced rules requiring digital platforms to hand over user data and comply with government content moderation orders.