Haeril Halim, The Jakarta Post | National | Sat, January 04 2014, 9:37 AM
The Indonesian Journalists Association (PWI) has said in its year-end report that media bias toward certain political parties and presidential hopefuls was a major concern for Indonesian journalism in 2013, calling on the press to remain impartial ahead of the elections.
“Everyone has the right to get into politics, including media owners. But the media should maintain its function as a ‘social institution’ as mandated by the Press Law. Every media outlet should remain neutral and independent ahead of the upcoming elections,” PWI chairman Margiono said in a statement recently.
The PWI lamented that many media owners turned politicians tended to use their media outlets as campaign machines to boost the electability of particular political parties and presidential as well as vice presidential candidates.
The People’s Conscience Party (Hanura), the Golkar Party and the National Democrat (NasDem) Party are three of the 12 political parties participating in the 2014 elections that have powerful media tycoons in senior positions.
Media mogul Hary Tanoesoedibjo, who is Hanura’s vice presidential candidate, owns media giant PT Media Nusantara Citra, which runs 20 television stations including three national terrestrial stations — RCTI, Global TV and MNC TV. Meanwhile, Golkar chairman and presidential candidate Aburizal Bakrie has two television stations, TVOne and ANTV, while NasDem chairman Surya Paloh runs news channel MetroTV.
Based on data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), television is still the number one source of news and entertainment for most Indonesians. The data from 2012 showed that 91.7 percent of all Indonesians over the age of 10 watched television, while 18.57 percent listened to radio and only 17.66 percent read newspapers and
PWI called on media outlets to disseminate balanced information regarding the weaknesses and the strengths of local and national legislative candidates as well as president and vice presidential candidates.
“Media also should provide viewers information on how to cast their ballots because inadequate information regarding elections may lead voters to stay at home on polling day,” Margiono said.
He also warned that excessive appearances by media owner political candidates on their outlets would harm the name of the media outlets themselves to the public and advertisers. “It will also hurt the dignity of Indonesia’s press freedom,” he said.
As part of its 2014 goal, PWI also encouraged media outlets to carry out more investigative reporting to expose rampant corruption in the country.
“The press also should stay in line with journalistic code of conduct in order to avoid possible violence against journalists in the future,” Margiono added.