Thursday, July 11, 2013

Media moguls, new media and ethics

The Melia Purosani Hotel ... venue for the AMIC 2013 media conference,
Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Photo: David Robie
IRONICALLY, while the major annual Asia-Pacific media research conference was unfolding in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta - with a final day focused on "new ethics for old media" - the national press was highlighting corporate control by media moguls.

Election  organisers and Indonesia's broadcast commission have embarked on imposing tougher rules as media tycoons signal their plans to enter the presidential elections next year.

At the four-day 22nd Asian Media Information and Communication (AMIC) conference at Yogyakarta, University of Queensland head of journalism Dr Rhonda Breit, herself a qualified lawyer, criticised the ethical "invisibility" of large sections of the media.

She called on media schools to broaden journalism education and refocus on the "morality" of media, not just journalism as a profession.

Media Asia editor Dr Cherian George also called for a broader view of ethics, beyond professional codes, encompassing the responsibility of all citizens to treat journalism as a public good.

Other speakers also called for greater accountability of corporate media companies.

In Jakarta, General Elections Commission (KPU) commissioner Ferry Kurnia Rizkiyansyah said the KPU was trying to tighten up regulation of political campaigns in the media - especially on television.

Ferry said the duration of campaign advertisements on television would be limited for each party.

According to data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) cited by the Jakarta Post, television was still the primary source of news and entertainment for most Indonesians.

Data from last year showed that 91.7 percent of all Indonesian over the age of 10 watched television, while 18.57 percent listened to radio and only 17.66 percent read newspapers and magazines. No online statistics were cited by the Jakarta Post.

Communications commentator Ade Armando warned that parties with strong media affiliations would have a greater chance of influencing public political preferences.

"These parties have myriad opportunities to appear on their television stations' regular programmes, and not only during the political campaign period," he said.

The People's Conscience (Hamura) Party, the Golkar Party and the Nationalk Democract (NasDem) Party are three of the 15 political parties participating in the 2014 elections that have powerful media tycoons in senior positions, two of who have openly declared their bids to enter the presidential election.

Hary Tanoesoedibjo, who is Hanura's election campaign team chairman and former member of NasDem, owns media giant PT Media Nusantara Citra, which runs 20 television stations, including three national terrestrial stations - RCTI, Global TV and MNC TV.

Golkar chairman Aburizal Bakrie has two television stations, TVOne and ANTV, while NasDEm chairman Surya Paloh runs news-based television channel MetroTV.

Bakrie and "Tanoe" have already declared their presidential bids, while Paloh said he would wait for the results of the legislative elections to decide if his party would nominate its own presidential candidate, according to the Jakarta Post.

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