VIVA, MNC suffer for dubious poll results
Anggi M. Lubis and Hasyim Widhiarto
The Jakarta Post
Shares of the companies that own the tvOne and Media Nusantara Citra (MNC) networks plunged on Thursday, as markets questioned the networks' credibility after they broadcast controversial quick count results for the presidential election on Wednesday.
Politically wired Visi Media Asia (VIVA), which airs tvOne and ANTV, as well as MNC, which owns RCTI, MNC TV and Global TV, saw their shares plunge by more than 6 percent, to Rp 250 and Rp 2,560 a piece, respectively, on a day when investors were, in contrast, buying shares and pouring funds into the stock market.
VIVA is owned by Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie, while MNC is owned by media mogul Hary Tanoesoedibjo, both of whom backed presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto. Rival Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo appeared to have won the election based on quick count results from eight pollsters.
Financial market analysts said there was no financial explanation for the drop in VIVA and MNC shares as the benchmark stock index, the Jakarta Composite Index (JCI), soared to its highest level in 13 months with all sub-indexes ending in positive territory. Hence, political sentiment was the only possible factor affecting the two companies' shares, according to analysts.
'VIVA and MNC, which are strongly affiliated with Prabowo Subianto, reported different, controversial election results compared to other television channels. While others indicated Jokowi's win, only media from the [VIVA and MNC] firms reported otherwise,' said Universal Broker research head Satrio Utomo.
Prabowo, using unofficial tallies from four other surveyors broadcast by the two companies' television networks, also claimed victory by a narrow margin.
'Investors see the different quick count results as [potentially able] to hurt VIVA and MNC's performances in the future. People will start questioning their credibility, and it might lead to declining advertising income for the two firms,' Satrio added.
In the meantime, the Indonesian Association for Public Opinion Surveys (Persepi) has openly invited all its member pollsters to uncover the irregularities that arose in the closely fought presidential election battle.
Hasan Nasbi, executive director of credible pollster Cyrus Network, urged all institutions that conducted quick count surveys during the presidential election to open their books and be ready for public scrutiny.
'This is the first time that there has been a difference in quick count results [...] There are already so many tools to verify the data we have, so [for me] this is as easy as pie,' Hasan said.
'Let's lay everything out in the open, right from the source and down to the end of the line,' he said.
Several pollsters, such as Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC), the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)-Cyrus, Kompas and the Radio of the Republic of Indonesia (RRI), put Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla in the lead with an average of 52 percent of the vote, whereas they judged that Prabowo-Hatta Rajasa garnered an average of 47 percent.
However, three other pollsters, namely Puskaptis, the Indonesia Votes Network (JSI) and the National Survey Institute (LSN), curiously declared victory for the Prabowo-Hatta camp. (tjs)
Esther Samboh contributed to this story.
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