If Indonesia wants to combat hoaxes it must fix its public broadcasters by Ross Tapsell, 25/09/2017, Indonesia at Melbourne
On election night in 2014, Indonesians tuned in to two 24-hour news stations to see who won. On TVOne, Prabowo Subianto was touted as the winner. Over on MetroTV, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo was declared the winner. Given the partisan coverage of both stations throughout the election, it was not surprising that many viewers had no idea who actually won. Few bothered to check TVRI, Indonesia’s state-run television station.
Since then, citizens have become increasingly wary of partisan mainstream news sites, and are turning to a swathe of alternative online sources of information, some of which are deliberately produced to encourage sectarianism.
One solution to this problem is an independent, fearless, public media that could provide a serious alternative to privately owned conglomerates and the increasing spread of hoax news and disinformation online. Indonesia is in dire need of a robust publicly owned media in the digital era. Unfortunately, public broadcasting in Indonesia is ‘dying’ and needing ‘revitalisation’.
In countries such as the United Kingdom (BBC), Australia (ABC), and Japan (NHK), nation-wide public broadcasters produce news and information across a variety of platforms, including the internet. In Australia, for example, the ABC has three digital television stations, a 24-hour news station that can be live-streamed online, and hundreds of local radio stations (which are also available online), as well as a growing online news and information presence through abc.net.au.
Indonesia’s public media looks more like the United States model, where television station PBS is underfunded and ignored by viewers, overpowered by privately owned cable news stations like Fox and CNN.