Local television stations across the country are young and small, but large in number.
Since the government endorsed the establishment of local televisions in 2002, new regional broadcasting agencies have blossomed in the regions.
The Indonesian Press Council recorded that there were 140 local TV stations in 2011. Unlike national broadcasting companies that often design content with residents of Jakarta in mind, local broadcasters produce content more relevant to the cultures and tastes of those in the regions.
While struggling to survive tough competition from the more established national television stations, local stations have been put in hot water with the digital television switchover plan.
Now, they not only must struggle to sustain production, but under the requirements of the plan, they must pay rent to the frequency host.
The government has created 15 frequency zones for the new digital TV system. Each zone has a host that authorizes 15 channels on one frequency. While the host can only occupy three channels, it can rent out the rest of the slots to other channels that require broadcasting licenses from the government.
So far, the government has appointed 23 vendors for five zones, most of which are affiliated with national broadcast companies. PT Banten Sinar Dunia Televisi, which secured bandwidth for the Jakarta and Banten Zone, is the only broadcaster that only operates locally. Its channel, BSTV, is not yet on air.
Although the government and the hosts have yet to set up rent fees, Communications and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring said that the monthly fee could be Rp 80 million (US$8,429) per channel.
“As local stations that only have small monthly incomes, we think the rent price of Rp 80 million per month is too high,” said Lampung-based Radar TV manager Adi Kurniawan.
“If the companies that win the bid to become multiplexing broadcasters set the rent price at Rp 100 million per month, then we cannot afford it.”
He said the right of the “host-tenant” system could become a new regime that would weaken the local television industry.
Even Radar TV is not exclusively local, since it is a part of Jawa Pos TV — a national network of local televisions that belong to the Jawa Pos Group — owned by current State-Owned Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan.
“If our umbrella company, Jawa Pos TV, loses the bid in the South Sumatra zone, our struggle to be on air will be very hard. Jawa Pos TV networks in Sumatra can do nothing but wait,” said Adi.
Edi Don Peci Purwanto, a producer of another Lampung-based broadcaster Tegar TV, also voiced the same concern.
Don Peci said if the rule of renting a channel was applied, the only local TV that could survive would be Lampung TV, which was jointly owned by two national media companies PT Media Nusantara Citra (MNC) airing RCTI, PT Surya Citra Media airing SCTV and City TV Networks airing Jakarta local JakTV.
“Our monthly income from advertisement is small. It will be difficult for us, especially those who are not under a national company, to rent a high price channel,” Edi said.
Tifatul said the selected hosts are obliged to rent nine out of 12 channels, even to their competitors. Recently, the ministry announced the winners of the selection process in five zones and plans to continue holding the selection process until 2015.
Anang Latif, head of the sub directorate of infrastructure development at the ministry, said both the ministry and the winning broadcasters were aware of the challenges that lay ahead with the digital switchover, but they have agreed to commence the transition plan this year.
He urged all stakeholders to support the migration to the digital system and asked them to understand that the ministry was just at the start of the process.
“The market is not built yet. We hear from one broadcaster that they can provide rent costs of Rp 20 to 30 million. So we will wait until they build the market,” he told The Jakarta Post.
He said the ministry had prepared a regulation draft that formulated the tariff to prevent market oligopoly. The draft said the broadcasting agencies should report the tariff proposal to the ministry’s Directorate General of Post and Information by submitting the forecast on the requested data and capacity, networking model and calculation spreadsheet.
The ministry’s evaluation would be used by the ministry to set up the benchmark of the multiplexing rental tariff.
Indonesian Broadcasting Commission commissioner Yazirwan Uyun asked the ministry to take into account feedback from local television stations.
He said the selection process of the multiplexing broadcasting agencies was not transparent, giving rise to resistance from a number of local televisions who were not selected as agencies.
“I am afraid local TV in, for example, eastern parts of the country, will not be able to rent channels if they are too pricey,” he told the Post.
New hosts for digital TV
Zone 4: Jakarta and Banten
PT Banten Sinar Dunia Televisi (BSTV), PT Lativi Media Karya (TVOne), PT Media Televisi Indonesia (Metro TV), PT Surya Citra Televisi (SCTV), and PT Televisi Transformasi Indonesia (Trans TV).
Zone 5: West Java
PT Cakrawala Andalas Televisi Bandung and Bengkulu (ANTV Bandung), PT Indosiar Bandung Televisi (Indosiar Bandung), PT Media Televisi Bandung (Metro TV Jabar), PT RCTI Satu (RCTI Network) and PT Trans TV Yogyakarta Bandung (Trans TV Bandung).
Zone 6: Central Java and Yogyakarta
PT GTV Dua (Global TV), PT Indosiar Televisi Semarang (Indosiar Semarang), PT Lativi Mediakarya Semarang-Padang (TVOne Semarang), PT Media Televisi Semarang (Metro TV Jawa Tengah) and PT Trans TV Semarang Makassar (Trans TV Semarang).
Zone 7: East Java
PT Cakrawala Andalas Televisi (ANTV), PT Global Informasi Bermutu (Global TV), PT Media Televisi Indonesia (Metro TV), PT Surya Citra Televisi (SCTV) and PT Televisi Transformasi Indonesia (Trans TV).
Zone 15: Riau Islands
PT RCTI Sepuluh (RCTI Network), PT Surya Citra Pesona Media (SCTV Batam) and PT Trans TV Batam Kendari (Trans TV Batam).
Source: The Jakarta Post