Friday, August 18, 2006

Independence Day: TV7 is now “occupied territory”

After one whole day of flag ceremony live from the Presidential Palace, pop artists singing patriotic hymns, and major local corporations (mainly the cigarette manufacturers) airing their oh-so-touching minute long “Viva Indonesia” TV commercials, on the evening of the 61st year independence of Indonesia, I witnessed a the airing of a variety show that was held in the front yard of the TransTV’s building. What’s different about it is that the same show was also being broadcasted on TV7. To me this was the first collaborative effort since the merge that took place earlier this month. The question is: was it a collaborative effort, or was TV7 left with no choice but to air it simultaneously? To the audience, the Konser Kemerdekaan was probably the first look at this union, in which TV7 did almost nothing but relay the broadcast of its sister station.

On August 4, it was announced that TransTV’s parent company has bought 49% of TV7. During the press conference, Trans TV’s Chairul Tandjung was quoted as saying that he hopes that this synergy of two TV stations would be a good momentum to build the nation through television. He also said “The strategy of this cooperation is to gear TV7 to a better direction” and that “the TV station’s function in information disbursement and educational tool, will be packed in an entertainment form.”

But what does Mr. Tandjung actually mean by that? One can claim just about any program would have some educational values. Even “The Price is Right” could be claimed “educational” as it provides information on consumer goods prices, so that viewers could become more “educated customers”. Well, recently KPI’s Ade Armando wrote a critique over TransTV’s “Selebriti Juga Manusia” pseudofictional-drama that had violated journalism ethics, promote bad taste, and really pissed off the guys from Partai Amanat Nasional. The last factor there was the one that really made the difference, and TransTV made the decision not to air the 2nd episode of the Gusti Randa and wife’s “fictional recollection” of a series of events that recently made tabloid headlines.

We also wonder about what he means by shifting TV7 into a better direction. TransTV is notorious in the TV industry as having a military-style management, especially in its non-news production department. The TransTV way of doing things is to immediately liquidate all low-rated shows and create new shows with better concepts. This is probably the reason for their current success as the rating-leader. So does TransTV’s “supervision” over TV7’s program mean a complete makeover of the station and its program? And by the way, TransTV has also sent over its top guns to TV7 in the process.

A friend of mine in TV7’s program department claimed that the past couple of months have been very “uncomfortable” for them as TransTV employees have gone around the block to brag about their conquest. He said that he and some of his coworkers have prepared their resumes and start shopping around for new jobs elsewhere.

Let’s go back to recent history when TV7 just started out, and many viewers expected some great TV journalism to be at work as the station is backed by the trusted Kompas Gramedia group. However, in its tenure, TV7 hasn’t been able to establish its news programs as one of the most watched nor trusted news programs either. The gems of TV7’s original programs are the “Jejak Petualang” and its spinoff programs, which are both entertaining and educational. This program was also in the spotlight recently when its team went missing during an expedition in Papua. With this recent move, these better programs may not stand a chance when compared to the high-rating comedy or variety shows.

A TV7 news producer said that the timeslot for the 7pm News will soon be replaced by an entertainment program. It is still unclear where the hard news program will be moved to. TV7 employees are also scheduled to move into the TransTV complex later this year. No words yet whether they’re gonna have to wear those semi-paramilitary uniform similar to that of TransTV’s employees. Perhaps TransTV will also make a movie out of it, like “Dunia Lain: the Movie”.


tonyhotland said...

well, i think there's not much TV7 idealists can do. after all, it's money that they're not having much. and trans tv apaprently has a lot.
like i've written somewhere else, it's prolly the impact of the reform era when people woke up one morning and said, "hey, let's make ourselves some TV or radio stations and publish some dailies".
when the capital starts to run out, comes in big money makers who are interested only in making cash rather than making brains. so there you go..
i also thought kompas would be able to keep TV7 up and running, but prolly kompas employees are nagging and bitching because they're not getting any increase because of the expenses on TV7..

Yasha said...

So what's TJP's position now, Tony? Are we gonna see any changes soon?