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Indonesian media criticised for biased reporting
Publication Date : 21-07-2012
Monopolistic media ownership in Jakarta of Indonesia is to blame for insensitive and biased reporting on conflicts beyond the island of Java, critics have said.
The condition is worsening because the development of information and communication technology is also centralised in Java.
According to the Centre for Innovation Policy and Governance (CIPG), the media industry in Indonesia is controlled by 12 groups, including MNC, Kompas Gramedia, Jawa Pos, Elang Media Teknologi and CT Corp.
Not only do they control print media and broadcasting stations, but they run on numerous different platforms including the Internet.
MNC Group, for example, has newspapers, tabloids, TV stations and a news website.
Similarly, CT Corp belonging to business tycoon Chairul Tanjung also runs TV stations, news portal as well as tabloids.
These media companies are located in Java but control broadcast information from Aceh to Papua.
Firdaus Cahyadi from the Satu Dunia Foundation, an NGO focused on access to information for ordinary Indonesians, said that the monopoly and the highly centralised media industry produced biased news reports.
According to him, media companies tend to publicise conflicts and issues that happen outside Java from Jakarta's point of view.
"Numerous conflicts take place in eastern Indonesia over natural resources but media companies are mostly located in Jakarta, therefore the news is written from Jakarta's point of view, without giving voice to the public in eastern Indonesia," Cahyadi said in a press conference recently.
The unequal distribution of information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure also contributed to the homogeneity of news viewpoints.
According to the study by Satu Dunia, the highest tweet production came from Jakarta with 15.37 per cent, followed by Surabaya with 10 per cent. The least tweet production is from Jayapura with only 0.15 per cent.
"Social media like Twitter can be a very useful platform for citizens to criticise and put pressure on the government, but again Twitter production is still dominated by the citizens of Java," Cahyadi said.
"This means, Papuan citizens, for example, can't express their opinions because they have no infrastructure to support it," he added.
According to Fajri Siregar of the CIPG, the situation is worsened by conglomeration in the industry.
"Media concentration through mergers or acquisitions contributes to the homogeneity of the news. The same news angle can be published on a number of news platforms such as websites, television, radio and newspapers," Siregar said.
Fajri added that monopolised media ownership threatened the spirit of diversity of information in the country.
"The government should allocate more money as an incentive to develop ICT infrastructure in the eastern part of Indonesia and make sure all citizens have equal access to information and to opportunities to express opinions," Cahyadi said.