Is the PAE about broadcast institutional design?

Having discussed with Dee, the research question of the Policy Analysis Exercise (PAE) now would be: Is the Department of Communication and Informatics (DOCI)’s concept of Network Broadcast System (NBS) a feasible, doable policy to be implemented in 2009?

Indonesia, via DOCI, has been figuring out what should be the best policy design to regulate the broadcast media which has been very centralistic since Soeharto’s era. We now have 10 private televisions with all relay system in their broadcasts. It is a system in which television stations make all the productions and distribution of programmes from the capital, Jakarta. They then broadcast their programmes by relay stations planted in hundreds of cities and tens of provinces throughout Indonesia.

That is why it has been very centralistic. From Acehnese, Javanese, Mollucans, to Papuans they are having the same choices of channels with increasingly irrelevant information for themselves. Why should, say, an Acehnese watch a crime report taking place in a small kampong in, say, Jogjakarta, Central Java? Why should a Jogjanese watch Jakarta’s traffic report? Further than that, are those sitcoms filled with wealthy and glamorous families and teenagers reflections of the people living, say, in Papua, or even in the poverty-striken satellite cities of Jakarta?

So DOCI came up with the idea of implementing a network broadcast system for these television stations. They said they wanted to imitate like what is happening in the US, Japan, Malaysia, or Australia. Such system serves the spirit of decentralization in the broadcasting.

So, it is about transforming a system. I may call it that it is now about transforming an institution. NBS would replace the existing centralised broadcast system. To measure the feasibility of this new system concept is then crucial. What should we use to measure the feasibility ofNBS? Economic, political, operational (infrastructure), and diversity feasibilities have to be taken into considerations.

Take diversity feasibility. My assumption is that having NBS would enhance diversity. More local needs are absorbed into the television programmes. Local diversity would be higher than now because then the existing national televisions have to compete with the existing local ones to get as many audience as possible.

But take economic diversity. I think NBS would require a lot of sunk costs for invetments (capital and human resources) for the television owners hence making them feel that NBS is a loss project. But I am also sure that economics of scale of media industry will arise in the end. If this is convinced, these media moguls surely will invest.

Problem is how should I measure each of these feasibilities?


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