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Jakarta Post

Soap tycoon continues legal battle against TV mogul

  • Asmara Wreksono
    Asmara Wreksono

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, October 25, 2017   /   10:56 am
Soap tycoon continues legal battle against TV mogul RCTI sued Leo Sutanto and his company for breaching its contract by selling Sinemart to a subsidiary of PT. Surya Citra Televisi (SCTV), PT. Indonesia Entertainment Group (IEG) for Rp. 500 billion (US$37.13 million). (Shutterstock/File)

Indonesia’s first privately owned TV channel Rajawali Citra Televisi Indonesia (RCTI) has won its lawsuit against production house PT Sinemart Indonesia and its founder, Leo Sutanto.

Although the verdict, which was announced on March 16 in the West Jakarta District court is final the legal drama is not over as Leo Sutanto via his lawyer, Harry Ponto plans to appeal the ruling.

RCTI sued Leo Sutanto and his company for breaching its contract by selling Sinemart to a subsidiary of PT Surya Citra Televisi (SCTV), PT Indonesia Entertainment Group (IEG) for Rp. 500 billion (US$37.13 million). The acquisition gave IEG an 80 percent stake in Sinemart.

Leo Sutanto’s lawyer Harry Ponto said there were several errors in the ruling, starting with the summons letter to the defendant that was sent to Sinemart’s old address, which is not used anymore as the company has been operating since 2004 from Kedoya, West Jakarta.

“RCTI signed several agreements, which were presented as evidence that bear the Kedoya address on the letterhead,” Harry told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

Read also: TV moguls in spat over deal

RCTI’s lawyer, Andi Simangunsong told the Post that the address to which the legal documents were sent was listed in the Law and Human Rights Ministry. “Both addresses can be used, but the plaintiff chose to use the address that was listed in the ministry so it is formal. It is a legal process so the most formal address is what we use,” he said.

The basis of loss calculation was also raised by Harry as one of the errors in the ruling. RCTI claimed that the loss was caused by the declining value of its parent company’s (MNC) stocks at the end of 2016.

“RCTI and MNC have not experienced any losses. According to its financial report, MNC even booked more than Rp1.4 trillion in profit,” Harry said. “Stock prices go up and down, it’s a common thing. When MNC’s stock prices went up in January 2017, does this mean Leo Sutanto is eligible for the rise?” he added.

According to Andi, the losses referred to in the lawsuit were not those recorded in the financial report. “The real matter is the breach of exclusivity contract, which meant RCTI lost [the market's] trust and this was reflected in the decline in MNC’s stock prices. This has all been proven in court,” he said.

Harry also argued that a verbal agreement on exclusivity was never made between Sinemart and RCTI, “From 2003 to 2007, Sinemart also sold [soap operas] to other [TV stations], including SCTV,” adding that starting from 2007 the production house produced more for RCTI because of an increase in demand from weekly to daily shows. “Sinemart simply did not have time to produce for other TV stations, there was no exclusivity contract,” Harry stressed.

Regarding the exclusivity dispute, Andi pointed out that there were witnesses in court who could have been challenged. “We discussed this in court, where there were witnesses. Since it’s a verbal agreement, witnesses were the evidence and they were present in court. They could have been challenged, but now it’s already too late.”