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Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Post
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Mass media liberalization does not yet drive democracy

  • Bambang Muryanto

    The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta | Mon, May 20, 2013 | 10:35 am

Research has revealed that the global capitalism, which has promoted mass media liberalization in Indonesia since 1999 has only benefited investors economically but not yet driven the growth of substantive democracy.

The researcher, R. Kristiawan, who is project officer of Tifa Foundation, said that the ownership of mass media is currently centered on 12 groups, creating an image of a cartel or oligarchy.

'€œSome have used their media for their own political interests. This is really frightening,'€ Kristiawan said while presenting the results of his research at Gadjah Mada University'€™s School of Social and Political Sciences in Yogyakarta on Friday.

He said that mass media liberalization since the reform era was not separated from the involvement of big capitalist countries through their respective not-for-profit institutions operating in the country.

USAID, for example, from 1995 to 1998 disbursed some Rp 1.6 billion (US$164,800) for the purpose, while from 1999 to 2002 it spent Rp 9.5 billion.

'€œThis is part of the structural adjustment for global capitalism expansion interests,'€ said Kristiawan, who conducted the research entitled Media Liberalization in Indonesia: Democratization or Industrialization for his master'€™s program at the University of Indonesia.

The milestone of mass media liberalization, according to Kristiawan, was with the birth of Law No 40/1999 on Press and Law on Broadcasting.

He also said that in the broadcasting world, 75 percent of the public frequency is under the control of the private sector. Apart from that, there are some 1,200 print mass media and over 27 foreign mass media franchises. However, only a few foreign investors participate in the television sector.

'€œIt turns out that foreign capitalists take benefits from advertisement agencies,'€ he said.

In 2010 alone, he said, advertisement spending reached Rp 60 trillion and the majority of it was in television, in which foreign advertisement agencies get the biggest share, leaving domestic ones far behind.

Ironically, he added, this has not been followed with the development of press freedom. Data from the Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF) shows that the press freedom index keeps decreasing year after year from 100 in 2003 to 139 out of 177 countries in 2012.

Separately, scholar Arie Sudjito of UGM Fisipol said that mass media liberalization had not yet promoted the establishment of substantive quality democracy.

The emergence of many media so far has only created capitalization of information.

'€œIf before the reform era the mass media was controlled by the authoritarian power, it is now controlled by the oligarchy power, who are capital and political parties,'€ Arie said.

At the same time, he said, the media has not yet promoted the creation of quality public dialogue. They do not talk about something substantially and in quality.

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