In June 2021, the Indonesian Radio and Television Commission (KPI), a state-regulated agency, issued a circular notifying radio stations that they could not broadcast 42 songs in English. [en, come i link successivi, salvo diversa indicazione], which included songs by Bruno Mars, Jay-Z, and many others, during daylight hours, but only between 10pm and 3am. The songs listed were considered morally cheeky as they talk about sexuality, alcohol and addictions.
It is not the first time that the Commission has imposed severe restrictions on songs for radio stations. In 2019, KPI used the same layout with 84 songs, including 17 western pop songs by famous artists like Ed Sheeran and Ariana Grande. At the time, KPI Deputy Director Rahmat Arifin told Tempo.co: “It’s not the songs that are banned, but their words that refer to pornography, porn associations and obscenities.”
The then Director of the KPI, Dedeh Fardia, went into more depth on the issue of the veto, adding that some words “reduced women to sexual objects”.
In response to public criticism, the KPI insisted [id] that the songs were not completely banned, but were limited to their more explicit versions. The agency has already faced adverse reactions from the public related to the imprecision of the arrangement adopted, especially after the veto in general terms of material with vulgar words and “violent” cartoons, such as SpongeBob.
Citizen Fadhil Mulyono has created a playlist on Spotify with the banned songs, which you can find here. Some of the alleged immoral songs that have been included are Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind, One Republic’s Good Life, and Nicki Minaj’s Starships.
In recent years, a morality-based movement has arisen in Indonesia, known locally as anti-maksiat, following some publicity campaigns based on conservative Muslim ideas, supported by the state. This movement defends the implementation of Sharia law and national and provincial regulations, and has led the government to ban music, media and websites for their seemingly offensive nature.