As Island Shuts Down for Nyepi, TV Stays on

DENPASAR ~ Eleven national television stations and 42 local radio stations have been asked not to broadcast in Bali during Nyepi, the Hindu Day of Silence, on March 19, and while the radio stations will cease for a day, assurances by the TV groups have not yet been given and are not likely to be, an official said.

“Our request is in accordance with the wishes of the Hindus in Bali, so they won’t be distracted from their observance of Nyepi,” Ida Bagus Made Kresna Dana, deputy of the Bali office of the National Broadcasting Commission, told The Bali Times on Thursday.

Since the government-sponsored commission was established in 2005, the Bali office has twice asked the TV and radio stations not to broadcast during Nyepi, but the request fell on deaf ears, he said.

Last year Jakarta-based all-news channel Metro TV was the only station that directly replied to the request, but said it was ethically unable to stop broadcasts into Bali.

Metro said “they couldn’t meet our request, because they had to keep broadcasting news to the people,” said Dana.

He said the Hindu Students Association had asked that the broadcasts be halted for the 24-hour period of Nyepi, and that “as long as the people want it, we will keep encouraging this (broadcast suspension) for years to come.”

There were no laws permitting such a temporary media blackout, said Dana.

“We can only ask them (broadcasters) to follow our wishes, but they are free to do as they choose,” he said.

The majority Hindu faithful observe Nyepi from dawn to dusk, a period of total silence, and fasting for those who are able, that is rooted in the belief that evil spirits descending on the island during that period will be convinced there is no life to disturb and so take their leave and peace prevails.

No traffic is permitted on the streets, and while locals remain in their homes, tourists must stay within the confines of their hotels. As in recent years, Ngurah Rai International Airport will be closed to all traffic for the duration, including transiting flights, as well as harbors.

Meanwhile, Dana said that of the 42 radio stations in Bali, 20 were illegal, operating without licenses to use the government-owned frequencies.

But all 42, he said, were bound by local banjar (community) rules and would have their plugs pulled for Nyepi.

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