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HOME > 18th JAMCO Online International Symposium > Presentation 3: PUBLIC BROADCASTING IN INDONESIA

JAMCO Online International Symposium

18th JAMCO Online International Symposium

January 16 to February 28, 2009

Public-Service Broadcasts of Asian Countries


Frederik Ndolu
Chairman, Indonesiasatu Communication

1.Background History

Historically, public-service broadcasting in Indonesia was introduced November, 2002, when parliament, for the first time, passed Act No. 32/2002 on broadcasting. Conceptually and institutionally it was something new in our broadcasting history as one of the newest types of institutions established after the new-order government led by General Suharto. But formally, public-service broadcasting in Indonesia was launched March 18, 2005, exactly after the Government Regulation No. 11/2005 of Public-Service Broadcast was released. Article No. 14 of the Law stated that Radio Republik Indonesia (audio) and Televisi Republik Indonesia (visual) were changed from government bodies to be public institutions. Under the democratic government, public-service broadcasting, according to the Act, concentrated on four kinds of institutions namely public service broadcasts institution, private broadcasts, community broadcasts, and paid tv/radio broadcasts.

For years, Radio Republik Indonesia, founded September 11th, 1945 and Televisi Republik Indonesia, founded August 24th, 1962 had been serving the public and government in information leading through broadcasts nationally in Indonesia. The vision of Radio Republik Indonesia is “to be an independent, neutral, self-governing, and professional public-service broadcaster.” Its mission; (1) to carry out social control, (2) to develop national identity and culture, (3) to service educational information and entertainment to all levels of public all over Indonesia, (4) to support the implementation of collaboration and mutual understanding with other nations, regionally and internationally, (5) to strengthen national intelligence, and to push the development of an informed society based on law and human rights, and (7) to develop national unity and union. Meanwhile, the vision of Televisi Republik Indonesia is “to be a television station embedded on national culture for maintaining national unity and union.” Its mission; (1) to become a media of communication for national concerns based on national unity and union, (2) to deliver trustworthy information and eligible entertainment programs for the public, (3) to put together mutual cooperation with business partners, and (4) to develop a beneficial, healthy, and professional workplace for all employees and colleagues.

Over time, all broadcasters became government apparatus who served under the ministry of information. They were not allowed to have any comments or criticism against government policies. As government broadcasters, the intervention and control always came from the ruling party, GOLKAR, and the military through the long reach of the authoritarian regime. All radio and TV stations were obliged to relay the news programs and special reports aired by Radio Republik Indonesia and Televisi Republik Indonesia at some specific times, aiming for reshaping the opinion of public with a good image of the current regime. For that reason, the government supplied and guaranteed all the needs of them regarding the employees, budgets, and equipment.

Today, the situation has changed. There is no obligation for all to relay news and special reports of development by the government radio and TV anymore. Reference the newest Act (Article No. 14), Radio Republik Indonesia and Televisi Republik Indonesia must turn around instead of serving the government’s interest it is to serve the public interest. The programs and contents delivered must be independent and neutral, non-commercial, as well as stay away from intervention and control of the government, military, or the ruling party.

2. Current Status of PUBLIC-SERVICE BROADCASTING in Indonesia

Public-service broadcasting, according to broadcasting law is broadcasting that is set up by state or local governments, which are independent, neutral, non profit oriented, and exclusively devoted to serve the public interest. It is a broadcasting that is run by public for their enhancement. It is a system that is set up by law and generally financed by public funds and given large degree of editorial and operational independence (Dennis McQuail, 2000: 156). Furthermore, McQuail states that the rationale behind the public-service broadcasting is: (1) Diversity in providing for all main tastes, interests and needs as well as matching the full range of opinions and beliefs; (2) Providing for special minorities; (3) Having concerns for national culture, language, and identity; (4) Serving the needs of the political system by being essentially balanced and impartial on issues of conflict; (5) Having a specific concern for quality (for broadcasting programs as well as for journalistic activities). As the main stakeholder, the public should have a space to participate in delivering their views and making their own broadcasting programs. In addition, the public also should also have access to ascertain that public-service broadcasting management be accountable to the public on matters of financial expenditure and broadcasting programs.

Public-service broadcasting in Indonesia has been developed in the same ways as the government station, since Televisi Republik Indonesia and Radio Republik Indonesia budgets are fully paid by the government. Pragmatically, they have changed only namely from government bodies to public bodies, which are controlled by the parliament. So far, parliament only manages the budget of public broadcasting. According to the data, Radio Republik Indonesia receives a budget of roughly 500 billion rupiahs and Televisi Republik Indonesia receives 350 billion rupiahs throughout fiscal year 2008. Radio Republik Indonesia has about 7000 employees who work for 60 stations nationally and regionally, as Televisi Republik Indonesia has about 6000 employees who work for 27 stations nationally and regionally. Over 95% of the human resources are civil servants, the rest are part-timers, but all are paid through the government budget.

For Radio Republik Indonesia and Televisi Republik Indonesia, according to the Government Regulation No. 11/2005, government will provide a minimal 20% allocation of frequency according to the available channels in every service area of broadcasting (Article No.15 verse 3). If under 10 channels of frequencies used in an area, then they will be given a 2 channel minimum each (verse 4). If there are too many channels used by the private stations, then the private stations will be reduced.

According to Article No. 2 of the Regulation, public-service broadcasting, consisting of Radio Republik Indonesia, Televisi Republik Indonesia, and local public-service broadcasting play the role of a healthy media of information, education and entertainment that can reach all layers of Indonesian society. The messages delivered must reflect the diversities of social and economic realities in Indonesia, as well as cultural heritage, and even act to control social unity to reflect the national identity and culture. The purpose of Radio Republik Indonesia, Televisi Republik Indonesia, as well as local Public-Service Broadcasting is to present broadcast programs supporting the outcomes of Indonesian people’s mental attitude, which has faith, obeys the God (Bertaqwa), has intelligence, and strengthens national integrity.

Public-service broadcasting in Indonesia is significant today because currently the people of Indonesia need freedom in all aspects of living. Some non-governmental organizations (NGO) who work for broadcasting even insist to reform of status of Radio Republik Indonesia and Televisi Republik Indonesia. They are supported by private broadcasting and the press, which had been repressed through tight control under the new-order regime who governed and banned news through monopolization. This wind of change brings the consequences of change to the institution structurally, but not substantially. The fact is that along this three year journey as public-service broadcasting, neither Radio Republik Indonesia nor Televisi Republik Indonesia have formulated their status, consequently they have not described their visions and missions operationally.

3.Media Environments Surrounding PUBLIC-SERVICE BROADCASTING in Indonesia.

Radio Republik Indonesia is surrounded by more than 200 radio stations, of which some are private radio stations networking their broadcasting with local broadcasters, which is the same practice as Radio Republik Indonesia and Televisi Republik Indonesia in the past. Radio Republik Indonesia has 59 branch offices and one broadcast for foreign listeners abroad, which broadcasts in 10 foreign languages.

Televisi Republik Indonesia (TVRI) is surrounded by 13 national TV stations and more than 50 local stations. It has 27 local branch offices, 27 local stations, and one headquarter station supported by 376 transmissions spreading around the Indonesia area named; 1. TVRI Stasiun DKI Jakarta 2. TVRI Stasiun Nangroe Aceh Darussalam 3. TVRI Stasiun Sumatera Utara 4. TVRI Stasiun Sumatera Selatan 5. TVRI Stasiun Jawa Barat dan Banten 6. TVRI Stasiun Jawa Tengah 7. TVRI Stasiun Jogyakarta 8. TVRI Stasiun Jawa Timur 9. TVRI Stasiun Bali 10. TVRI Stasiun Sulawesi Selatan 11. TVRI Stasiun Kalimantan Timur 12. TVRI Stasiun Sumatera Barat 13. TVRI Stasiun Jambi 14. TVRI Stasiun Riau 15. TVRI Stasiun Kalimantan Barat 16. TVRI Stasiun Kalimantan Selatan 17. TVRI Stasiun Kalimantan Tengah 18. TVRI Stasiun Papua 19. TVRI Stasiun Bengkulu 20. TVRI Stasiun Lampung 21. TVRI Stasiun Maluku dan Maluku Utara 22. TVRI Stasiun Nusa Tenggara Timur 23. TVRI Stasiun Nusa Tenggara Barat 24. TVRI Stasiun Gorontalo 25. TVRI Stasiun Sulawesi Utara 26. TVRI Stasiun Sulawesi Tengah 27. TVRI Stasiun Sulawesi Tenggara.

Several local stations have their own local languages implemented in a number of programs. Both Radio Republik Indonesia and Televisi Republik Indonesia, until today, still power their broadcasts by terrestrial means. They also have their own network for their listeners and viewers nationally, but also they have their own local contents.

For Radio Republik Indonesia, there is an education program. Radio Republik Indonesia developed some social programs, namely programs for villages, community programs, programs for women, and programs for community empowerment, etc. Another program is named School Broadcast that is an education program with curriculum starting at the kindergarten level through secondary education. Another important policy by Radio Republik Indonesia is that all the stations in Indonesia currently must deliver programs that display the Indonesian cultural heritages. The objective of this policy is (1) to preserve the various cultural heritage of Indonesia, and (2) through national networking stations, the program will provide mutual understanding between all varieties of people in Indonesia for maintaining the unity and union. Radio Republik Indonesia’s ambition is to create good programs to meet the needs and the interests of society high enough, under the act 32/2002 on broadcasting and government regulation 11/2005 on public service broadcasting. However, the policy was actually not giving Radio Republik Indonesia much space to practice normally as a public broadcaster. The number of government regulations on discipline of civil servants still exists, and there’s a shortage of funds, plus regulation of their culture, their status, and public participation.

4. Organization, Governance, and Services of PUBLIC-SERVICE BROADCASTING in Indonesia.

The Act No. 32/2002 provides for Radio Republik Indonesia and Televisi Republik Indonesia to develop their own corporate culture and decision making bodies under the president and parliament as the highest body namely five board members of a supervising body and five board members of a board of directors. Both Radio Republik Indonesia and Televisi Republik Indonesia have the “Dewan Pengawas” (a board of commissioners) who are chosen by parliament according to the initiatives from government based on some input from the government and/or society (Government Regulation No.12/2005 of Radio Republik Indonesia, Article No. 8 verse 3). Dewan Pengawas then selects the board of directors according to the fit and proper test (Article No. 7c) that is conducted openly. But there is a regulation that most of the member of the board of directors must come from civil service, mostly to maintain the budget provided by the state. This results in disagreement externally. Some argue that this will reduce the independence and neutrality of the institution.

One example of the above case can be downloaded from the website of Indonesia Commission of Broadcasting (Komisi Penyiaran Indonesia), , in a news release on September 1, 2006. There is concern from Komisi Penyiaran Indonesia, who sent a letter to Government, that is supported by public comments and complaints, mostly from NGO, that the process of selection for the board of directors of Televisi Republik Indonesia, conducted on August, 2006, was perceived to be conducted without transparency or fairness.

Another example can be read on the same website in a news release on October 15th, 2008, about Radio Republik Indonesia Gorontalo (the branch office in Gorontalo Province in Central Sulawesi) that was perceived as neither being neutral nor independent in the programs delivered to the public. Based on complaints from the public, the station delivered some programs that tended to be political, because its programs had conveyed some campaign subjects according to one political party who will be in the following election in 2009.

According to the Act No. 32/2002, financial budgeting for Radio Republik Indonesia and Televisi Republik Indonesia are to come from viewing fees, public donations, fiscal budget, and advertising (Article No. 15). Viewing fees have not been implemented yet, because there are only limited viewers and listeners of them. The public does not want to pay the fee because the programs are under-qualified. The public finds other stations, mostly private stations. So Radio Republik Indonesia and Televisi Republik Indonesia mostly use the state budget for their operation with a little revenue from advertising (less than 2% in 2008).

For example, Televisi Republik Indonesia received a budget from the state of about 350 billion rupiahs covering its 6000 employees and programs, while the rest is received from donations and advertising, such as education program cooperation with the Ministry of Education presenting TVE, which has no viewing fees yet. The balance is still a deficit since the beginning of public-service broadcasting’s establishment as Televisi Republik Indonesia and Radio Republik Indonesia as well. In Jakarta, there are two channels, namely national programming (networked with local Televisi Republik Indonesia branch), Jakarta channels (broadcasts such as, English news service-especially for metropolitan programs, etc). All Televisi Republik Indonesia programs are produced in-house. There are product and exchange programs with foreign ones, but not a purchase of programs from abroad or outsourcing them from local production houses due to the shortage of production budget for this.

5. PUBLIC-SERVICE BROADCASTING and its Viewers in Indonesia

There has not yet been any formal survey for Televisi Republik Indonesia viewers, however, a survey taken by AGB Nielsen stated that Televisi Republik Indonesia got more viewers during Ramadan and the Olympic Games in Beijing. The figures of this Indonesia’s viewers remains the same as the previous condition of the government station in the past due to the lack of many things such as funds and creativity of government apparatus on the station. Let’s take a look at this survey.

The first two weeks of Ramadan (September 1-14, 2008) showed viewers increasing approximately 20%. In the previous two weeks before Ramadan (August 18-31, 2008), the average number of viewers was 10.9% of total TV population, or around 4.6 million people ages five years and older in ten cities. Meanwhile, in the first two weeks of Ramadan, TV was watched by 13.1% or around 5.6 million people on average at all times. During Sahur, the average number of viewers was 11.1% of the total TV population, or roughly 4.7 million people.

In general, the supply of religious programs increased from 3% to 6% of total broadcast hours, while the “consumption” was only slightly higher, as it increased from 1% to 3% of the total viewing time. The broadcast hours for series programs also increased from 8% to 11% of total broadcast hours, as people also increased series viewing time from 23% to 33% of their viewing time, or approximately an hour a day to watch series programs. Despite the changes in viewing habits on most days, the highest viewing during this early Ramadan was still on prime time which between 7:00 to 9:00 PM, with 26.1%, or around 11.1 million people ages five and up. However, the number of viewers at this particular daytime was lower compared to the regular period (26.6% of total TV population, or about 11.3 million people ages five and up). These figures are shown by all national TV stations.

Meanwhile, during the Beijing Olympics Games, Televisi Republik Indonesia’s channel shares (August 8-24, 2008) increased from 0.7% to 1.7%. The opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics broadcasted live on August 8th, raised the number of the viewers in ten cities. The channel rose from 0.6% to 2.4% from the total audience who watched TV between 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm.

However, viewer’s enthusiasm was lower during the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics on August 24, 2008. When broadcasted at 7:00 to 9:00 pm, the show only earned 1.5% of the total audience during that time. Nevertheless, this amount is still higher compared to the channel share during the regular period before the Olympic broadcasts, which was 0.8% of the total audience on average.

In the meantime, the airing of the Beijing Olympics journals started from August 9 to 23, 2008 at 9.30 to 10.00 pm were watched by approximately 1.3% of total audience during the time. This number was also higher compared to the average viewers on regular time, which was only 0.6% of the total audience. Though the reception quality, mainly from the pictures sharpness of Televisi Republik Indonesia (this broadcast in VHF, while others broadcast through UHF). “this seemed to be put aside from watching this world class event which was broadcasted exclusively from Televisi Republik Indonesia” ( AGBNielsen).

6.Challenges for PUBLIC-SERVICE BROADCASTING in Indonesia

Public-service broadcasting in Asia is far different compared to this in Europe or the United States. The broadcasting in Asia has its own culture and values in informing, educating, and entertaining the people. It is liked how Europe and the United States develop their democracy. There is no ideal democracy yet of any state in the world. Even the US could not be a model of democracy for Indonesia, Japan, or the world. For countries that have public broadcasting in Asia, they should play a special role to attract many more viewers and listeners. They should not only be more creative, but also should be professional and have funding on more of a capital bases.

One can not deny that there was once very bad operation of Public-service broadcasting in Indonesia. Why?

Something was going wrong from the beginning, due to the changing of state/government broadcasts to public-service broadcasting only by forcing the law of several interest groups politically and economically during the period of transition. I am certain that Radio Republik Indonesia or Televisi Republik Indonesia was more like NHK or KBS which had been established since the country got its independence in 1945. Radio Republik Indonesia and Televisi Republik Indonesia served the people, even though the service was still dominated by the authoritarian regime. They have been difficulties to develop public broadcasting to fulfill the interest and the need of the people in accordance to the definition and the Act No. 32/2002 on broadcasting as well as Government Regulation No. 11/ 2005 on public service broadcasting.

Public service broadcasters should devote to respond based on the identity of viewers, economic growth, monitoring the population whether declining or rising birth rate, as well as measure the changing values of society affected by the service. In fact, the expectations are still far behind. Radio Republik Indonesia and Televisi Republik Indonesia have difficulties structuring their body from a government body to a public institution concerning most of their employees are civil servants. Funding by the government budget, which is very limited, allows advertising, but it is hard to sell and gets no participation from the public for funding. Public broadcasting service, both Radio Republik Indonesia and Televisi Republik Indonesia, only “change their skins,” but there is still no radical change in the institution itself neither internally nor externally. Even their vision, as the basis of public-service broadcasters is still just the same as the old days, “to become the media that is most selected by Indonesian people with the aim of taking part in uplifting national life, intelligence, and national virtues” (a blue print of general policy of TVRI for 2006-2011).

Former president director of Televisi Republik Indonesia 2001-2004, Sumita Tobing said that Televisi Republik Indonesia as a public broadcaster could not survive under this act 32/2002 and the regulation no. 11/2005 on public service broadcasting. “They can not compete only by running on these policies, since television broadcasters and generally even public services are capitally based.” (Telephone interview with Sumita Tobing)

The same concern comes from Yon Anwar, a current director of news programming on Televisi Republik Indonesia. He showed his concern about this surviving, especially the news programming. “One knows our budget is used in only eight months and then we have to survive on another budget. We count on doing 52 live broadcasts each year with the current budget, plus broadcasting the rest of the programs for public.” (Face-to-face interview with Yon Anwar)

The regulation of legal changes of the institution focuses only on the source of revenue, and does not focus on the changing of the corporate culture of the organizations, mostly concerning the human resources there.

Substantially, programs of Radio Republik Indonesia and Televisi Republik Indonesia were far from expectations to fulfill the interest and the needs of society. It seems that public and commercial broadcasters are competing to sell their products. Actually, public service broadcasters have their own viewers and a way to get funding, as well as commercial broadcasters. But there must be the same access for all Indonesian people and regions to receive programs from public-service broadcasting. It can be achieved only if both, Radio Republik Indonesia and Televisi Republik Indonesia, renew their cultures and values, as well as equipment and technical systems. It all needs huge investments that must be supported by the public also, not only by the government. Nevertheless, to attract the people to view Televisi Republik Indonesia and listen to Radio Republik Indonesia, there must be radical and progressive political will from both institutions to renovate their programming contents and quality. Those broadcasters still show little policy and implementation currently.

1. Blue print general policy of broadcaster policy of TVRI, for 2006-2011

2. McQuail, Denis (2000), Mass Communication Theory,4th,ed London : Sage Publication

3. Ndolu, Frederik. (2004). “Management of News Program in Public Service Broadcasting-Case Study of Radio Republik Indonesia (RADIO REPUBLIK INDONESIA)”. Thesis. Postgraduate Program of Communication, University of Indonesia.

4. Gazali, Effendi & Victor Menayang. (2002). “Public and Community Broadcasting in Indonesia : A Necessary Alternative”. Paper. presented at the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) Workshop on “Globalizing Media and Local Society in Indonesia”, Leiden, Netherlands. The Act of Broadcasting No. 32/2002

5. The Government Regulation of Public Service Broadcasting No. 11/2005






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Frederik Ndolu

Chairman, Indonesiasatu Communication

1994: S1- degree of Public Administration of Academic of State Public Administration. 2004: S2 degree in communication field at the University of Indonesia. 1984 - 2004: Civil servant with the Joint Department of information. 1987 - 1997: News editor, producer, newscaster, and interviewer for the Voice of Indonesia. 1997 - 2004: Producer and newscaster of RRI domestic service. 2001 - 2002: Host of Autonomous Region, an interactive program at TVRI. 2004: Founded a web site covering issues on nation's leaders. 2005 to present: Program Director with QTV. 2006 to present: Host of OPOSISI, a QTV talk show Currently: Chairman of Indonesiasatu- political communication expertise. Currently: Lecturer of Psychology Communication at Institute of Business Informatics Indonesia (IBii), Jakarta. Overseas Experiences in Journalism: Interviewed a number of world leaders such as; Yasser Arafat, Iraqi Vice President Talha Yasin in 1992, Senator Allen Specter, a candidate for U.S. Presidency in 1995, Indonesian President Megawati Soekarnoputri in 2003, among others. Covered various issues abroad such as; the secret meeting of tripartite leaders; Yasser Arafat, Yirsak Rabin and Bill Clinton on Middle East issues in Oslo, Norway in1994, as well as a number of APEC leaders meetings, G-15 meetings, SUMMIT meetings, and OPEC meetings, among others. Covered the tripartite meeting on East Timor amongst Indonesia, United Nations, and Portugal at the UN headquarters in New York. A special course for radio reporting skills in Washington DC, 1995. Special workshops on children's rights- organized by UNICEF in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in1999. Publications: DIA : A Picture of Megawati Soekarnoputri-published by Magnum Publishing, 2004.

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