Monday, August 07, 2006

On Whether God Takes Side

What if God is an artist who sits back after creation and "paring his fingernails" ?

With a seemingly never-ending series of deadly conflicts, wars, human failures, and natural disasters, this is the season when one tends to think about God. I came across a nicely written article that may stimulate your thought. Enjoy it:

God is not on my side. Or yours
Roger Rosenblatt on whether God takes sides

Time, Sunday, Dec. 09, 2001

This is the season when one tends to think about God (if one thinks about God at all), and I would like to offer the opinion that God is not thinking about us. Or if he is (I'll stay with he), one has no way of knowing that--unless, of course, one is like Mohamed Atta, who had a pathological view of faith, or Jerry Falwell, whose mind is Taliban minus the bloodlust. This week the Taliban leader, Mohammed Omar, may be wondering how tight he is with God, after all. In September he was certain that God rooted for our extinction. Now, with the surrender of Kandahar, the mullah may be shopping for a more competent deity.
"A fanatic," said Finley Peter Dunne's Mr. Dooley, "is a man that does what he thinks th' Lord wud do if He knew th' facts in th' case." On the other hand, there are folks like me who are fanatically uncertain about what God is thinking. I believe in him, all right. But I do not believe that he is on our, or any, side in wars or that he oversouls his way through the trees or that he presides over my bowling game.

The essential act of faith, it seems to me, is wonder--a sort of involuntary fascination in awe. By awe, I do not mean the act of seeking, either--the quest one hears a lot these days in the affectionate recollection of George Harrison's My Sweet Lord. I don't believe in seeking, and I don't believe in finding.

Most religions make awe difficult, because they are concerned with ideology, uniformity, loyalty and favoritism--not the most useful tools for those who choose to live in mystery. One says that he respects someone else's religion, but it is like saying he thinks someone else's children wonderful. Similarly, if one prays for gifts and protections, one must naturally assume that God micromanages the universe for the advantage of particular believers. If, however, one sees prayer as what theologian Paul Tillich called "the great deep sigh," prayer becomes an act of unconscious adoration. Religion becomes more generous and modest. Even the Gospels were written "according to," which was a way of saying "as I see it."

One would like to think that God is on our side against the terrorists, because the terrorists are wrong and we are in the right, and any deity worth his salt would be able to discern that objective truth. But this is simply good-hearted arrogance cloaked in morality--the same kind of thinking that makes people decide that God created humans in his own image. (See the old New Yorker cartoon that shows a giraffe in a field, thinking "And God made giraffe in his own image.") The God worth worshiping is the one who pays us the compliment of self-regulation, and we might return it by minding our own business.

So indefinite is my idea of God that I do not even connect it to morality. It is pleasant to believe that God wants us to behave well, and that if we do, we may be making those choices that he hoped for when he let us alone. Then again, we may not. What if God is who James Joyce said he is in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, one who sits back after creation "paring his fingernails"? The idea is hard to swallow, which is what makes faith equally confounding and thrilling.

In practical terms, it might be quite upsetting to learn God's opinion on such issues as human cloning, abortion, school prayer, capital punishment, conservation, nuclear weapons, starvation, disease and an excessive number of Krispy Kremes. Where has God been since 1973 regarding the New York Knicks? I'd like to know. If one wants proof that God does not side with someone who merely invokes his name frequently, take point guard Charlie Ward (please).

This whole business of knowing God's devices is particularly nettling to us modern scientific Americans, who have assured ourselves that we are capable of knowing everything. But it is always interesting to see how knowledge, no matter how fundamental or revolutionary, discloses as many mysteries as it unravels.

Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer made his way to America from Nazi Germany at the outbreak of World War II but then decided to return to his country to join the Resistance. He participated in a failed attempt to assassinate Hitler, and was caught, jailed and hanged. Bonhoeffer addressed this question of knowing with the example of a rose. He said that science allows us to grasp nearly everything about the composition of a rose because we have learned so much about pollination, photosynthesis and so forth. And yet, he said, once we have done all that analysis, we still ask, What is a rose?
Hitler had a different question. "Who says," he asked, "that I am not under the special protection of God?"

Sunday, July 16, 2006

On Child . . .

And a woman who held a babe against her bossom said,
Speak to us of Children.
And he said:

Your children are not your children
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself
They come through you but not from you
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you

You may give them your love but not your thoughts
For they have their own thoughts
You may house their bodies but not their souls
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dream

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you
For the life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet (1934)

Sunday, July 09, 2006


The Mass Media, Rumours, Economic Structural Transformation and
De-legitimization of Suharto’s New Order

Dedy N. Hidayat

Abstract / This study explores the political significance of rumours – as public resistance to a repressive authoritarian communication structure – in the changing structure of the global economy,which is characterized by a high degree of capital mobility and an increasing separation of the entire financial sector from underlying, real economic activity. This study proposes that rumours – within a specific time period – may gain political significance in contributing to the delegitimization of a ruling regime. In Indonesia’s case, rumours played a part at a specific historical juncture of the development of global capitalism – into which Indonesia became integrated in the 1970s – where human agencies’ perceptions, fear, greed and sudden changes of heart are fundamental for capital mobility and the ruling regime’s structural stability or change.

Keywords / delegitimization / Indonesia / New Order / political power / subversive role of rumours

Indonesia’s ‘May 1998 Revolution’, that ended Suharto’s 32 years of authoritarian rule, will go down in history as the first revolution largely fought on the Internet. While Tiananmen Square students fought the Chinese government with fax machines, Indonesian students, NGOs and journalists ushered in a new era when they brought about the downfall of a corrupt regime through their use of the Internet. For a particular information-rich segment of Indonesian public, i.e. university students and the urban and educated middle class, various Internet-based media developed into ‘public spheres’ that were relatively untouched by state repression and market intervention. Within such ‘public spheres’ those who had access to ‘the technology of freedom’ found alternative information sources and developed a counterhegemonic discourse structure that circumvented and challenged the hegemony of government-manufactured political discourses. But not only were intense discussions about democracy and human rights held in cyberspace and then disseminated through photocopies of downloaded materials, many of the militant actions aimed against Suharto were coordinated on the Net (see, for example, Winters, in Hidayat et al., 2000; Tedjabayu, 2000).

Much has been said of the contribution of Internet-based media during Indonesia’s ‘May 1998 Revolution’. However, analyses on the subversive role of high-tech media tended to overlook the existence of the oldest of all alternative media: rumours. The ‘May 1998 Revolution’ itself, and also the delegitimization of Suharto’s regime that paved the way to the ‘revolution’ definitely cannot be considered as a middle-class driven political process (after all, only about 3 percent of the Indonesian population used the Internet in 1998). This involved a majority of the Indonesian population: citizens and consumers for whom word-of-mouth – and therefore misinformation and disinformation – remains the main vehicle for their daily intake of information.

This article explores the political significance of rumours in the delegitimization of a specific political regime. The first part of the article describes some salient features of economic and political conditions during Suharto’s New Order period that might have helped to develop the culture of rumours. This part also explores some characteristics of rumours that were collected during a period leading to the downfall of Suharto in May 1998. The next part focuses on the political significance of rumours during a specific period of economic crisis and political turmoil, one that ended with Suharto’s resignation in May 1998. Finally, some theoretical implications are drawn from the preceding analysis.

This study describes rumours as public resistance to a repressive communication structure, and suggests that the political significance of rumours in the delegitimization of a particular ruling regime depends on the real and specific context within which they are produced and circulated. In the Indonesian case, this hinges on a specific historical juncture: the development of global capitalism – into which Indonesia become integrated in the 1970s – where human agencies’ perceptions, fear and greed are becoming one of the driving forces for political and economic structural change.

This article, however, is based on a recollection of unstructured and accidental observations, a series of impromptu conversations and interviews with various individuals across socioeconomic classes, which were conducted between 1996 – when the downfall of Suharto’s New Order regime was unthinkable – and May 1998, when the unthinkable happened. Some data have been established as a reconstruction of the author’s observations as participant in some events that took place during the period under study. The question of ‘objectivity’, therefore, is secondary to questions of authenticity and reflectivity, that is the extent to which the observations could be judged as authentic reflections of subjects being observed. Also, this article could not be taken to exhibit a nomothetic study, to establish ‘the truth’, i.e. by offering general law-like conclusions that can be deemed to hold irrespective of time and place. Instead, due to the fact that this article is based on an unstructured and event-driven qualitative study, which is very much exploratory in nature, the analysis follows the ideographic approach that aims to reveal ‘a’ truth, therefore limiting its conclusion for a specific socioeconomic context, time frame and locale.

New Order Capitalism and the Rise of the Media Industry
Suharto’s New Order regime emerged in 1966 after the ousting of Sukarno, a left-leaning nationalist president who left the country with a negative growth rate, 600 percent inflation, no foreign reserves to speak of and a national debt of over $US 2 billion (see, for example, Vatikiotis, 1994). The new regime tended to favour a free market oriented economic policy, anxious to open the door to international trade and investment; and it also succeeded in obtaining support from multinational financial institutions as well as the advanced industrial countries of the free market system. The New Order economic development had actually been implemented through a series of import-substitution and export-led or outward-looking policies.1 However, the end results have pushed the country towards a deeper integration into the world capitalist economy, and have also led to a growing dependence on the capital, technology and markets of the advanced industrial capitalist countries.

Yet, the New Order political-economic structure cannot at all be analysed as a final, solid and static entity. Rather, it was a dynamic formation which was constantly reproduced and altered in response to the logic and demands of global neoliberalism on one hand and the political-economic interests of the New Order capitalism on the other. As a dynamic reality, the New Order economic development had actually been implemented through a series of policies that represents an ambivalence towards economic liberalization.

For example, in the days when Indonesia had sufficient oil revenues to pay for its development, Suharto gave support to the import-substitution and protectionist policies, and he did not seem to care about what the foreign investors and donors thought of the Indonesian ‘high-cost economy’.
But following the dramatic decrease in oil and liquified natural gas, the decrease of export revenues between fiscal year 1985 and 1986 and the increase in foreign debt in 1987, Suharto seemed to listen more to the advice of the ‘economists’ whose liberalization policies offer the continued support from international creditors wanting to see the country reform and open its vast market. in return for their money (see, for example, Rowley, 1987).
Suharto’s willingness to liberalize the economy has been reflected through a series of deregulation or reform packages that abolished many import monopolies, simplified export licences, liberalized the stockmarket and eliminated red tape affecting foreign investment. One of the most salient points in the reform was that the country moved towards a deeper integration with the world capitalist economy, and that a secondary market has been established, allowing domestic companies to raise capital by selling bond and equity shares, and also allowing foreign investors to buy shares in this market through over-the-counter trading. These reform packages has been praised by the World Bank and the IMF (see, for example, Borsuk, in Emmerson, 1999: 159) – the two international lending institutions that perform their role as a ‘built-in systemic mechanism of economic liberalization, opposing not only socialism but national capitalism as well, in favor of the progressive extension of international market forces’ (Wood, in MacEwan and Tabb, 1989: 300).

However, the reform packages were just necessary adjustments to a combination of internal and external pressures, not acquired principles towards becoming a fully liberalized economy. The crucial question at that time was whether Suharto and his regime could implement further liberalization that would end business privileges and monopolies which surrounded the president’s family and cronies. Some business privileges and monopolies of Suharto’s children and cronies were still off-limits to deregulation until the end of his era.

In Bali, in 1994, during the summit meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, Suharto gave his commitment to take a greater role for Indonesia in achieving the regional economic liberalization and free trade zone by 2020. But, in 1996, the government issued a highly controversial decree allowing Suharto’s son Hutomo ‘Tommy’ Mandala Putra to import from South Korea 45,000 units of Indonesia’s so-called ‘national car’, which bestowed overwhelming tariff and tax advantages on his newly established company.

Nonetheless, there is no doubt that until the economic crisis of 1997–8, the New Order regime had succeeded in transforming the country from what has been described by Higgins as ‘the number one economic failure among the major underdeveloped countries’ (Higgins, 1968: 678), to a whole new country that was held up as a model of Third World development. Over the span of the New Order’s first five five-year plans (from 1969 to 1994), GDP expanded on average 6.8 percent annually; even in the aftermath of declining hydrocarbon prices in the early 1980s, annual average GDP growth accelerated from 6.1 percent (from 1980 to 1990) to 7.6 percent (from 1990 to 1995), while the annual average population growth fell further to 1.8 percent (Booth, in Emmerson, 1999: 113).

Such achievements led the World Bank in 1993 to place Indonesia in the same category as South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand, as high-performing economies responsible for the ‘East Asian miracle of rapid growth and declining inequality’ (World Bank, 1993: 1–3). The Indonesian media industry was largely shaped by the dynamics of economic development, and therefore by the logic, operation and evolution of the New Order market economy.

The dual process that accompanied the expansion of the New Order market economy – the evolution of an audience and the expansion of the advertising industry – allowed the Indonesian press to develop into a lucrative industry. Rapid economic growth during the New Order period brought into being a new middle class with relatively higher education and income levels. This meant greater opportunities for the media to reach large audiences with real purchasing power as a result of the country’s growing economic and cultural sophistication. 2 The economic expansion also led to the growth of the advertising industry and of advertising expenditures. This in turn created a greater opportunity for the Indonesian media industry to become a most profitable business by selling access to audiences for producers in various industrial sectors.3


European Journal of Communications 28 (2003), 475492 03412059/2003/0280475
Walter de Gruyter.

Establishing a middle ground for public and community broadcasting in Indonesia: An action research project


The Reform movement that ended Suharto’s 32 years of authoritarian rule brought significant changes to Indonesia. It liberated the media, the market, and civil society from State repression. But at the same time, the end of authoritarian rule brought about a vast shift to a libertarian market orientation, especially in the field of mass media. Against this background, a consortium of NGOs, academics in the field of communication and politicians have been trying to establish a ‘middle ground’ for discussions and legal implementation of public and community broadcasting in Indonesia. This paper discusses the outcomes of focus group discussions held in an effort to establish a platform for decentralization of broadcasting in Indonesia. These groups consisted of local people and spokespersons of constituent groups in ten provinces throughout Indonesia. The public hearings showed how constituent groups in society can and should be involved in media policy negotiations which so far predominantly took place at the national level only.

Keywords: Public broadcasting, community broadcasting, Indonesia, action research.

Situation in Indonesia
There is little doubt that the media system during the New Order regime was authoritarian. The Suharto regime put into place a systematic and comprehensive strategy to ensure that the mass media functioned as control instruments of power. Hidayat et al. (2000: 6) summarize the main ingredients of Suharto approach as follows:

1. Preventive and corrective control of the ownership of the media institutions,through the issuance of licenses mainly on the basis of political criteria;

2. Control of individual and professional practitioners (journalists) through selection and regulation mechanisms, such as the requirement for journalists to join the one and only journalist organization allowed at the time, the obligation for chief editors to attend courses
on state ideology (Pancasila or ‘Five Pillars’), which is in fact a kind of indoctrination process;

3. Control of the appointment of individuals on certain positions in government- owned media;

4. Control of news texts (both content and format) through various mechanisms;

5. Control of resources, for example, through a monopoly on paper distribution;

6. Control of access to the press, for example, by forbidding press coverage of opposition leaders.

This strategy effectively turned the Indonesian media system into a system that was centralistic, based on cronyism, and directed from Jakarta. The implementation of the strategy was more apparent in the TV broadcasting scene through the domination of Televisi Republik Indonesia (TVRI), established in 1962 as the only TV station until 1987 and run by the government under the Ministry of Information. Afterwards, television licenses were issued only to the presidential family known as the Cendana family  and its political and business cronies.
In 1987 Rajawali Citra Televisi Indonesia (RCTI) became the first commercial TV station to be allowed to operate in Indonesia, 25 years after TVRI started its operation. The station could only freely broadcast (without a decoder) in 1989. Suharto’s son, Bambang Trihatmodjo, was the president of RCTI as well as the chair of its board of directors.
Bambang’s company, Bimantara Citra, also held the majority of the shares followed by Rajawali Wirabhakti Utama, a company led by Peter Sondakh, a close friend of Bambang. By the end of 1989, the second commercial station, Surya Citra Televisi (SCTV) was licensed to go on the air. Infact, SCTV went on the air in 1990. SCTV used to be regarded as RCTI’s little sibling, although it is now independent. SCTV was in the hands of Sudwikatmono, Suharto’s stepbrother, and businessman Henri Pribadi.

In August 1990, a third commercial station was granted a license. Since there were already two generalist commercial stations, this third one was allowed only because it focused on education. Indonesian Educational TV (Televisi Pendidikan Indonesia or TPI) was in the hands of Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana, Suharto’s eldest daughter. TPI was to become just another commercial station except for a few instructional educational programs (based on text books) during the morning hours.

In January 1993, the fourth commercial station, Cakrawala Andalas Televisi (ANteve) was granted a license by the Ministry of Information. ANteve was in the hands of the Bakrie Brothers group belonging to one of the most important entrepreneurial families in Indonesia and Agung Laksono, the then head of the central committee board of the ruling party, Golongan Karya. Indonesia’s fifth commercial broadcaster and the last one during the Suharto era was Indosiar Visual Mandiri (IVM).
As early as 1991, IVM was granted a license, but it was not until January 1995 that the station went on the air. IVM was in the hands of the Salim group, one of the biggest and most powerful conglomerates in Indonesia led by Lim Sioe Liong, a close friend of Suharto (for a more detailed account of the original set of TV stations in Indonesia, see d’Haenens et al., 1999: 127152 and d’Haenens et al., 2000: 197232).

While the process of selecting these license holders was far from being transparent, the procedure for granting commercial licenses itself was interesting for at least four reasons. Firstly, the policy of opening up to commercial stations could be seen as a response calculated by the government to the ever-increasing pressure from transnational broadcasting.
In light of the ‘open-sky’ policy put in place by the Ministry of Information since 1984, the Indonesian government had bought into the idea that its best defenseagainst transnational television was to improve the competitiveness of domestic television industries (Chan and Ma,1996: 48). Secondly, among the five original commercial TV stations,two were based outside Jakarta. SCTV was broadcasting in Surabaya,the capital city of East Java and ANTeve was located in Lampung, Sumatra.

In fact, they were forced to relocate to Jakarta within the second or third operational year, the main reason being that the advertisers were mostly concentrated in Jakarta. Thirdly, even in the beginning of its operational years, ANteve rebroadcast 6.5 hours of MTV programs every day. This was of course in violation of the government strategy of granting domestic commercial licenses that considered the production of national programs as a defense against international broadcasters. And finally, IVM-the station that later became one of the strongest TV players in the TV industry seen as a model of efficiency by other stations chose to follow Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), Hongkong, as its model of efficient programming and production. IVM even contracted some professionals from TVB when it was establishing its facilities and infrastructure. This outsourcing to TVB only ended when other media reported and raised the issue of hiring (too) many foreign employees.

After the fall of Suharto, President Habibie appointed Mohammad Yunus Yosfiah as the Minister of Information. For the first time the ministry conducted a bidding contest to obtain licenses for commercial TV broadcasting. Ten corporations submitted applications to the five available national licenses. Based on the licenses issued on 25 October 1999, the winning stations were the following: PT Transformasi Televisi Indonesia (operating Trans TV), PT Metro Televisi Indonesia (Metro TV), PT Pasar Raya TV (Lativi), PT Dipa Visi Nusantara, and PT Global TV (Global TV). All these new stations had to start their activities at least two years after their license was issued.

Again, there were a few things worth noticing in this licensing process. Firstly, the lack of transparency was immediately criticized by the other applicants. Secondly, the license could be transferred to other corporations even though the latter was granted on the explicit condition that certain people would run the station. In this case, PT Dipa Visi Nusantara transferred its license to the Kompas Group that would later operate TV 7. And lastly, just like the previous five TV licensees, the new five Jakarta-based stations all held a national broadcasting license. The liquidation of the Ministry of Information by President Abdurrahman Wahid on 27 October 1999 put the broadcasting industry in a legal vacuum. No longer was there an executor of the effective Broadcasting Laws 24 of 1997. The state broadcasting enterprises, TVRI and Radio Republik Indonesia (RRI), were specifically affected by the eradication of this Ministry since they were structurally dependent on the Ministry of Information. In 2000, both TVRI and RRI were transformed into public broadcasting organizations through Government Regulations 36 (for TVRI) and 37 (for RRI).

The radio landscape has always been different from the television industry in Indonesia. RRI was established on 11 September 1945 and already since 1968 commercial radio stations were allowed in Jakarta. Moreover, while the commercial TV stations were all based in Jakarta until 2001, local commercial radio stations had been blooming in many cities and regions since 1970. Both commercial TV and radio stations, however, shared the obligation to relay the main news programs of their state counterparts. Commercial stations were not allowed to produce their own news programming and had to resort to package news items into something like features or soft news (see also Hidayat et al., 2000: 165-203).

While the TV stations were obliged to relay two news programs of TVRI, the situation was worse for radio stations because they had to relay RRI news up to 18 times a day. The relay obligation for TV was cancelled in 1997, the one for radio was lifted in 1998.In 1999 the regional autonomy law (No. 22, 1999) was issued. This opened up opportunities for the development of local TV and radio stations. According to this law, regional governments are authorized to allocate radio frequencies. However, this is in conflict with another law about telecommunications stipulating that the authority to allocate frequencies lies solely with the Ministry of lecommunications. Despite the legal ambiguity, a few local TV and radio stations were established early, riding on the liberal spirit of the Reform Movement. It was interesting that the operators/owners of these new stations were unclear about the nature of their activity, whether it was commercial, public, or a community broadcasting institution. These three categories were later adopted officially as categories of broadcasting in the Broadcasting Bill proposed by the legislative body (Gazali 2002a: 2324). In its response on May 2001, the executive government rejected some core concepts within the proposed draft. One of the most absurd arguments put forward by the government was the rejection of the term ‘broadcast institution’ claiming it to sound too state-like and proposing the use of the term ‘broadcast
operators’ instead. A more significant issue was the government’s refusal of the existence of public broadcasting and community broadcasting. It recognized only state broadcasting operator versus private broadcasting operators. Apparently, the executive government failed to see that their concepts only dealt with the owner or founder of stations and did not address the characteristics of broadcasting. The latter can only be captured by the terms commercial, public, and/or community broadcasting.

Some of the most recent developments mentioned related to the broadcasting world and civil society in Indonesia should also be considered. Firstly, the amendment to the 1945 Constitution has been seen by media people as conducive to the existence of local radio and TV stations
(see, for example, Suryokusumo in Gazali 2002a: 133-134). Specifically, the amendment to Article 28 that led to Article 28F states: “Everyone has the right to communicate and to obtain information to improve one’s welfare and that of the social environment, as well as the right to
seek, to obtain, to own, to store, to process, and to convey information using any available channel”. Article 28I states: “The cultural identity and the rights of the indigenous people should be respected in accordance with the advancement of civilization.” Secondly, the confusion about who has the authority to allocate frequencies in the region has led to the shut down of two local TV stations. In addition, one transmitter of J-TV (the station belonged to the big newspaper chain, the Jawa Pos group) in Surabaya was seized. The new local radios are facing similar problems. In East Java, there are raids on these radio stations conducted by special telecommunications police forces supported by the provincial branch of the Association of Private Commercial Radio Stations (PRSSNI).

In short, the television landscape in Indonesia has never allowed an opportunity for the development of local television. The main reason for this is that the Broadcasting Law has never granted legal status to local television. Worse even, community and public television have never really been conceived as an alternative to the state and commercial television. In the case of radio, although local commercial radio has long existed, other forms of radio have not been fully explored by the local communities. However, Indonesia is now more than ever in a specific historical transition, offering new opportunities for public and community TV and radio stations. Hidayat (in Gazali, 2002a: 418) argued that in the Indonesian context at least three reasons can be considered for why it is not desirable to let the shift in broadcasting - from a government propaganda instrument to a system controlled by the market only take place.

Firstly, the logic of capital accumulation will dominate in determining what and whom should be excluded from the broadcasting context. Issues to be addressed will eventually be determined by the extent to which they do not interfere with the interest of capital expansion. Moreover,
the broadcast should implicitly convey the ideological values that portray competition and the unlimited rights to capital accumulation as natural and normal. In such a context, local traditional arts can easily be considered secondary to the popular art forms that are fostered by the market. Secondly, the principle of capital accumulation will eventually increase the cost of broadcasting making it only accessible to certain groups and individuals. This would almost certainly lead to the exclusion of issues of interest to those without access to the use of broadcasting media. Thirdly, the principles and logic of the market will exclude broadcasting
institutions that do not comply with the pressure from advertisers. Alternative media that voice out public interests or position themselves as fora for public dialogue without taking into account ‘consumer taste’ would have a very low survival rate. A potentially negative effect of the market concentration is the homogenization of media content. In the end, this would resemble the state repression of the New Order regime when -- through what was called national culture -- the
definition of social reality from the government was the only valid and logical one (see, among others, Sen and Hill, 1990).

Based on these assumptions, we argue that public and community broadcasting is a necessary alternative. However, only when the system sufficiently recognizes the supervisory and evaluative role of the public on broadcasting can public and community broadcasting become an effective alternative (Gazali, 2002a: 52-56). Without such evaluation and supervision, this so-called alternative would only be another false choice, and public and community broadcasting institutions would turn into paternalistic bodies pretending to know what is good for the public and thus exclusively decide on what should be broadcast and what not (d’Haenens and Saeys, 2001: 120).

Research problem
Against this background, a team of researchers of public and community broadcasting of the University of Indonesia aimed at studying the broadcasting situation and finding alternative solutions to the above-mentioned broadcasting problems. In an effort to guide its activities, the team asked the following questions:

1. What is the basic comprehension of the public broadcasting concept; what are the taken-for-granted assumptions about broadcasting and public broadcasting, and positioning of TVRI and RRI among the local key representatives?
2. After being introduced to concrete public broadcasting experiences in other societies, how does a wider audience comprising of local broadcasters and stakeholders clarify their perceptions of and felt needs about local public and community broadcasting?
3. How do local audiences see the need to maintain regional and local identities and cultures using the public and/or community broadcasting as the main forum, and how do they position the maintenance of regional and local identities in the context of national and global
4. What would be the fora to sustain the discourses developed during the introduction of the public and community broadcasting concepts in order to ensure that community intervention into broadcasting can effectively be implemented as envisioned by the locals?

This research is qualitative in that it relies mostly on observation and records of statements made in private and public meetings as well as in personal interviews. Short questionnaires were used in an effort to gauge the opinion of the larger public. In general, the research was meant as a combination of research and advocacy. The paradigm used was ‘working with the people’, as opposed to ‘working for the people,’ upon which the researchers from the outset have based their work on people participation in decision-making, in implementation, in sharing the benefits, and in evaluation (Cohen and Uphoff, 1980). It will then have to consider the implications of the development of people’s capacity, equity, empowerment, and interdependence (Byrant and White, 1982: 15).
The team of the University of Indonesia started out with a set of preliminary ‘pre-assessment’ activities in ten cities in Indonesia, aimed at identifying basic comprehension of public broadcasting concepts, taken-for-granted assumptions about broadcasting and public roadcasting, and positioning of TVRI and RRI. At this stage, the researchers primarily interviewed key local leaders. The selection of the ten cities was done purposively with the plan of using each city as a hub where relevant parties from the surrounding areas would gather. Covering the whole span of Indonesia, the cities are: Medan, Padang, Bandung, Yogyakarta,
Surabaya, Denpasar, Samarinda, Makassar, Manado, and Jayapura.
It was worth noting that the participating communities can refer to the city community, the provincial community, or even to the regional communities.

The pre-assessments were conducted between July 2000 and January 20011. The researchers met with representatives of the local communities,including NGO activists, academics, TVRI and RRI professionals, and commercial radio makers, regional government representatives, regional legislative members, social leaders, artists and cultural observers, religious eaders, business leaders, advertisers, and local media people. During this first phase, the pre-assessment rounds, the researchers briefed the stakeholder representatives on issues relevant for public and local broadcasting. At this point, ideal characteristics of public and community
broadcasting were offered and discussed, including: (1) mass media allowing public supervision and evaluation of programming; (2) mass media offering wider access to local people; (3) media offering wider and deeper coverage of relevant, local issues and problems; (4) media emphasizing more local arts and culture; (5) media that, while focusing on localities, also convey a shared interest in national identities in an effort to improve the audience’s appreciation of the heterogeneity of Indonesia and at the same time to maintain national integration; and (6) media that, following examples of other countries, rely on public funding in many forms such as national budgets, regional budgets, license fees, advertisements, donations, underwritings, and others (for comparison,see Hollander et al., 2002: 7-8 and 22-23).

A series of broad public forums, in the form of seminars, were organized as a response to this demand. These seminars constituted the second phase of the research/advocacy activities. The seminars were conducted in the same ten cities from April till August 2001. The participants came from the surrounding areas and were given an opportunity to discuss their perceptions and felt needs on local public and community broadcasting. Public broadcasting experiences in other countries, particularly the United States, Canada, and Germany, were presented.
In total, 1345 participants (NGO people, local government staff, local parliament members, scholars, students, TVRI and RRI staff, cultural observers, artists, religious leaders, media people, and businesspeople)took part in the seminars.

During the third phase, activities were facilitated to establish local groups in order to oversee public broadcasting development in each area. In the meantime, the advocacy and research team continued to hold several meetings in each city. The team also involved local stakeholders to produce radio and TV programs. A televised townhall meeting was chosen as the most plausible program to implement as a pilot project during the third phase. Collaborating with the local stakeholders,TVRI and RRI, the team managed to produce 309 local programs and to establish the first six initial local consultative forums (LCFs).

Evidence so far

Pre-assessment activities
During the pre-assessment rounds, it became clear that groups working with the locals at the grassroot level thought that a medium providing access to the common people was needed. They believed that the existing media had never been truly able to let the locals talk about their problems, in their own languages, adopting an approach relevant to them. For instance in Papua, the local NGOs and academics believed that the Jakarta- as well as the Jayapura-based mass media brought about topics that were not very helpful for the development of the community of Papua. Regarding television broadcasting, it was felt that what was shown were outsiders telling stories about themselves in the outside world. Even if these outsiders made a movie about Papua, it was usually about what they wanted to consume about Papua. This kind of program was felt entirely unsatisfactory for the people of Papua who are in need of information about, for instance, why they should plant banana trees in a certain area, how to benefit more of the banana production other than just selling bananas at a very low price, or letting them rot because the price offered at the market is too low.

The Papuan informants thought that the Papuan traditional performances on the Jakarta TV stations lacked authenticity. Furthermore, they suspected that Papuan traditional dances were only presented as background in state ceremonies to show that Papua is still part of Indonesia.
Criticisms over the dominance of programs of Javanese tradition also were voiced by artists and cultural observers in Bali andWest Sumatra.

In general, they shared the perception that these Java-based programs were causing alienation of the locals from their own culture. Artists and cultural observers in East Kalimantan and the surrounding areas complained about the lack of seriousness and professionalism of the local TVRI staff when producing cultural programs. The local TVRI often invited them only as a tokenism gesture.

Another interesting phenomenon found by the advocacy and research team was that in North Sulawesi no substantial criticism was found about the lack of traditional performance programs, although the program composition at the Manado TVRI is quite similar to that of the other local TV stations. Subsequent interviews with NGO activists, artists, cultural observers and academics reveal that, in general, the Manadonese people are much more open to innovations and popular packaging of traditional performances. In addition, some people proudly remarked that the closing dance of the popular Jakarta TVRI program ‘Dansa yo Dansa’ (Come Along, Let’s Dance) was a Manado-original Poco-poco dance. This remark was in sharp contrast to criticisms on the same show voiced by informants in the nine other cities complaining that the show imported culture unsuitable to the Indonesian cultural norms and values.

The religious leaders in all of the cities, except Manado, also voiced their concerns about the decreasing amount of religious programs on TV, such as the teaching of the Quran reading and practice in life. They addressed their demand to local TVRI, not to Jakarta TV stations,which they considered already ‘contaminated’ by transnational programs conveying overseas cultures, such as Britney Spears with her sensual attire.

Local business communities seemed to be the least enthusiastic about the idea of public broadcasting. They were of the opinion that if the prime goal is to provide more access to local common people, the media cannot survive in the long run. Some business representatives in East Java and Bali, however, still saw the potential of these local stations promoting local products. The Bali business people, for instance, hoped that when local public broadcastings reached the hotels it would promote Bali, its traditional performances, and its cultural artifacts to a wider international audience.

Summarizing, the pre-assessment phase brought about the following findings:
(1) Each stakeholder group had its own set of reasons why to think an alternative broadcasting institution is needed. One common need was to put more emphasis on local people’s aspirations;

(2) Although the informants acknowledged not to have a clearcut view of the concept of public broadcasting, they felt that the TVRI and RRI programming did not represent the principles of public broadcasting;

(3) When it came to the goal of maintaining local identities, culture, and traditional performances, they demanded a broadcasting system that would see them as active participants; they would like to see their own faces, and insisted on being portrayed as the host in their own home;

(4) Most respondents suggested that it was important to hold a followup seminar involving a much larger group of stakeholders in order to talk about public broadcasting. They also suggested that the seminar should involve experts - some referred specifically to international
experts who have acquired a great deal of experience with public broadcasting - to share information and concepts with the participants.

Seminar series
Following the recommendations of the pre-assessment rounds, the advocacy and research team then ran a series of two-day seminars in the above-mentioned ten cities. The seminars consisted of two parts: an introduction to public broadcasting concepts (by way of speakers’ presentations) and a needs assessment (involving all participants more actively). As indicated by the pre-assessment, the seminar series staged international speakers: Jim Byrd (Canada), David Brugger and Bob Ottenhoff (USA), and Eric Voght (Germany) who had been working with public radio and television broadcasting in their home countries. National and local speakers consisted of academics, NGO activists, media people, local government officials, local parliament members, and representatives of the central government (ministry of telecommunications). Only about 40 percent of national speakers came from Jakarta.The seminars involved a total of 1345 participants in ten cities. The composition of the participants was as follows: NGO people (6-25 %), local government staff (5-10 %), local parliament members (4-10 %), scholars (10-12 %), students (8-10 %), TVRI and RRI staff (14-18 %), cultural observers (10-12 %), artists (10-15 %), religious leaders (59%), media people (5-6%), business people (5-6%), others (4-5%).

They came from the 10 host cities as well as from 64 surrounding cities. Not surprisingly, various issues uncovered during the pre-assessments re-emerged as core issues in the seminar rounds. Three factors could possibly account for the consistency of issues in the two phases. First, of course, was the possible fact that the advocacy and research team managed to capture the most significant issues covering what broadcasting meant to local people during the pre-assessment round. Second, in the pre-assessment round, the team had already met with key figures who later on turned out to be the more enthusiastic participants in the seminars when reformulating their opinions and criticisms. Third, although the international speakers tried to comprehensively describe aspects of public broadcasting in their home countries, the participants seemed to be more interested in or wanted to limit the discussions to the problems of TVRI and RRI.

The local TVRI and RRI producers seemed to appreciate the opportunity to showcase their best public-oriented programming. Most thought that their programs already incorporated the principles put forward in public broadcasting arguments. Virtually all producers brought in a talk show program, a news or feature program, and/or a traditional performance. After underlining the everyday production obstacles, such as the very limited budgets, they usually tried to defend their programs as meeting the public needs.

The NGO activists and academics raised a lot of questions and criticisms towards RRI and TVRI staff. They particularly questioned the insufficient attention that TVRI and RRI had shown over the years for issues such as ethnic minorities and marginalized people. They pointed to issues such as poor people being forcefully relocated from their land and property in the name of ‘development’ or ‘public interest’, the problems of street children, the unemployed, issues that rarely make it to the TV or radio. They were also disappointed with the disappearance of
instructional programs that are felt helpful for farmers. Some NGO activists related stories about TVRI and RRI staff who only cared about how much money the NGO can contribute to the production, without any consideration whatsoever for the benefits the program can bring to the people. The academics expressed their concerns about the lack of audience research conducted by TVRI or RRI.

Representatives of local governments could not hide their ambition to ensure that the local governments regain their unlimited access to the local TVRIs and RRIs. They argued that if local stations are to be supported by local government budgets, the latter should serve the interests of the local government. Not surprisingly, the NGO people and academics rejected their idea. The international speakers explained that in some countries a TV or radio council should first be established so that all segments of stakeholders, including the local government, can have equal access to public broadcasting.

Suggestions were voiced that the local participants needed to establish a forum bringing together stakeholders to think about TVRI and RRI issues and to help find solutions to the problems. This idea to establish a stakeholders forum in an effort to rebuild local TVRIs and RRIs got support from local parliament members. Two moments of implementation were suggested: waiting for a clear, legal framework, that is, the finalization of the legislation process of the Broadcasting Bill. Some ohers, such as the legislators in North Sulawesi, South Sulawesi, Bali, East Java, and Yogyakarta, did not want to wait that long and emphasized the fact that the local legislators together with the local government have the right to establish such a forum on the basis of the local autonomy Establishing a middle ground for public and community broadcasting 487 law. If necessary, the forum could later be adjusted to the new Broadcasting Law.

Finally, at the end of the seminar, a plenary session brought about the results of the discussion on the needs assessment. In summary, five important points were agreed upon:
(1) The participants needed to take concrete action;
(2) The initiators of the discourse and program were expected to set up a comprehensive strategy. Only by developing a solid strategy could one move forward quickly in order to seize the opportunity and maintain the momentum;
(3) Overall, it should be clearly stated which stakeholders can interactharmoniously with TVRI and RRI, within which kinds of networks local groups are allowed to interact, and through which coordination mechanisms;
(4) Immediate steps should include development of programs involving various stakeholders; the broadcast townhall meeting is one of the most plausible programs to implement as a pilot project;
(5) The development and publication of a guidance book for public and community broadcasting, compiling experiences from other countries, the Indonesian experience, and the concepts and ideas developed during the seminars, was felt an urgent necessity.

When formulating these recommendations, some suggestions were made on the term to be used for the stakeholders’ forum. One widely preferred term is LCF (Local onsultative Forum).

Local consultative forums and local programs

After the seminar series, the advocacy and research team kept arranging meetings among the local representatives. So far 36 discussions have been held with the stakeholders of public and community broadcasting in ten cities.

Besides the meetings, the team also facilitated the production of TV and radio programs involving local constituents as recommended in the workshops. Due to the limited funding, not all programs jointly produced by the local TVRI and RRI with the initial LCFs can follow the town hall meeting format. A substantial portion of the joint production costs were made available by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) disbursed through IFES (International Foundation for Election System). At times, in a few regions, some additional funds were made available from other NGOs involved in LCF, especially when the topic of the program  usually a talk show  was closely related to the field of activities of those NGOs. Of the 309 programs aired on TVRI and RRI since November 2001 to September 2002, only 30 per cent was produced in the townhall meeting version. Here, by the
townhall meeting format we refer to the following characteristics:(1) Dialogue involving representatives of stakeholders in that area (any combination of NGO activists, academics, TVRI and RRI staff members, local government officials, local parliament members, business people, artists, cultural observers, etc.);

(2) In addition to the stakeholders, 30 to 50 residents with various backgrounds
are to be invited to the studio; during the show they are encouraged to be active participants, giving comments, criticisms,suggestions, etc.;

(3) The show was broadcast live and open to call-ins. Another format for the joint productions between LCF and local TVRI and RRI is the interactive dialogue. Usually there was no audience in the studio except the speakers and moderator who would hold a discussion on a certain topic which took up one fourth of the total time, while the rest was open to audience participation through call-ins.

Along with the joint production activities, some initial LCFs became more solid. Six of them are already officially launched, for example, the Yogyakarta Society for Public Broadcasting (Yogyakarta), the East Java Forum for Public Broadcasting (Surabaya), the Media Forum for Brotherhood (Manado), the Makassar Local Consultative Forum (Makassar), the Bali Television Society (Denpasar), and ‘Balarea’ in Bandung (‘Balarea’ also means brotherhood or togetherness). Beyond the ten original cities, some are attempting to establish their own LCF, including Banjarmasin,Mataram, Banten, and Banda Aceh. In general, whether an LCF in a city makes progress depends on: (1) the creativity of the LCF members in that area; (2) the cooperativeness and creativity of the manager and staff of TVRI and RRI; (3) the strength of support from local parliament members and local government staff: (4) the funding from external relevant donors to bear the joint production costs.

Local RRI staff members have become more and more cooperative. They have also been flexible in the discussion about the joint production costs. It is now clear that from its board of directors in Jakarta to the 52 branch-heads across Indonesia, the management of RRI have already agreed that RRI can no longer keep a paternalistic attitude. At the end of 2002, RRI conducted its first national audience research, which was designed especially to address the characters and performance indicators of a public radio.

Local TVRI managers in Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Manado, Papua, Samarinda,Denpasar, Makassar, and Medan were among the few who were open to dialogue with LCFs. They were, to a certain extent, willing to develop joint programs with the LCFs and understand that the joint production costs should be covered together. In the other cities, the LCFs tended to see the TVRI high-ranking officials as not being cooperative or even holding on to a paternalistic attitude.

With the contribution of no less than 153 LCF members, the Communication Department, University of Indonesia, published the first guidance book on public and community broadcasting. Copies of the book have been distributed to all the members of the parliament commission and the special committee dealing with broadcasting. The ideas and models of public and community broadcasting and the constituents to support them are in place. However, the LCFs are still in an embryonic phase. Lots of backstopping is still needed to make them self-sustainable.

What Further?
This kind of action research becomes significant in the context of broadcasting in Indonesia because it combines research and advocacy. It demonstrates that the paradigm of working with the people can successfully change the societal hierarchy of issues. This research and advocacy have been developed through listening to the local voices. Starting from the pre-assessment rounds, the needs assessment workshops, the local production and the evaluation, the locals always take the lead with the researchers providing active facilitation.

In general, local representatives in Indonesia wholeheartedly welcomed the discourse on public broadcasting although the motives varied from group to group. There were two main reasons why the support for public broadcasting was rather strong. Firstly, they needed a broadcasting medium accessible to many people and, more importantly, one that could be used to express opinions, needs, and preferences of the common people. The emphasis is on the goal to turn public broadcasting into a forum to accelerate the process of democratization in Indonesia. Secondly, in the context of presenting identities, traditional arts, and local cultures the local epresentatives expressed that active participation of the local public is a prerequisite. The demand is apparently based on the assumption that only people living in the local tradition and culture can appropriately and accurately reproduce the traditional arts and other cultural artifacts on the media.

As a concrete follow-up, the various stakeholders in the local public expressed the need for a forum allowing them to be actively involved in 490 Gazali, d’Haenens, Hollander,Menayang, Nur Hidayat establishing public and community broadcasting in their area. This forum will become the channel for the local community to work with RRI and TVRI to ensure that these stations serve the interests of the local public. Only through such forums can the local stakeholders provide a rationale that TVRI and RRI are public broadcasting with programming that suits the needs and preferences of the local public and thus deserves public funding. There is no doubt that to most people RRI and TVRI are the logical choice to initiate public broadcasting.

However, there is no guarantee that locals will always support these two former state broadcasting institutions to serve their needs because they already forewarn that new institutions will be established to replace RRI and TVRI locally should they not perform satisfactorily on the public broadcasting indicators.

So far, the forums that turned into LCFs (Local Consultative Forums)have established excellent working relations with virtually all RRI stations in their respective regions but they only succeeded in a few TVRI stations. Therefore many local representatives hold the perception that RRI no longer adopts a paternalistic attitude while TVRI seems unable to rid itself of its ‘greater than thou’ attitude.

On November 28, 2002, amid mounting pressures from commercial TV stations, the Parliament passed the Broadcasting Bill into act with a full recognition of public and community roadcasting. The details of this new Act will be developed into lower-level regulations and certainly need to be anticipated by the advocacy groups together with LCFs and local people. In line with this development, at least three factors may still hamper the continuation of an LCF. Firstly, the position of the public vis-a`-vis community and public broadcasting is unclear because the roadcasting Law does not address it in sufficient details.

Secondly, TVRI stations in many areas have not demonstrated their acceptance of the idea of a local consultative group, nor have they shown willingness to work closely with local groups in production. Thirdly, there is a lack of funding to support existing and new LCFs in their initial stage. Should the regulations and implementation of the Broadcasting Law incorporate the idea of public involvement in the broadcasting operation through a (formal) supervisory board, the LCF can still play the informal role of the ‘Friends of Community and Public Broadcasting’. The
LCF can also serve as a breeding ground for candidates for that supervisory board since participation in this board is indicative of one’s concern with and interest in public and community broadcasting. In the mean time, some LCFs have involved themselves in media literacy programs and in assessing the drafting process of the new Broadcasting Law as well as the new Election Law. In short, the LCFs have served the function of advocacy for broadcasting and democracy issues. Whether they will be useful in the long run, in terms of developing public broadcasting in Indonesia, remains to be seen. At least, they are playing a quite significant role in guiding Indonesia through this transitional phase that could easily lure the society from an authoritarian system into a marketdriven system.

In any case, according to the most recent data, there are currently at least 15 local television stations. They joined two associations: Asosiasi Televisi Publik dan Komunitas Indonesia (Indonesian Public and Community Television Association), which was established in Balikpapan, 28 April 2002 and Asosiasi Televisi Lokal (Local Television Association), which was established in Bali, 26 July 2002. Meanwhile, more than 100 community radios have been recorded and most joined the Jaringan Radio Komunitas Indonesia (Indonesian Community Radio Network) established on 15 May 2002. Prior to that, there was Jaringan Radio Komunitas Yogyakarta (Yogyakarta Community Radio Network) with 52 radio members and Jaringan Radio Komunitas Jawa Barat (West Java Community Radio Network) with 23 radio members

1. These interviews, discussions, and observations were recorded by the researchers.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Degree-Granting Service Industry

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Media and the Pandora’s Box of Reformation

IIAS Seminar on Globalizing Media and Local Society in Indonesia. 13–14 September, 2002. Leiden University, the Netherlands

Dedy N. Hidayat
and Sasa Djuarsa Sendjaja
Department of Communication, University of Indonesia

“If you open that Pandora’s Box, you never know what Trojan ‘orses will jump out” (Ernest Bevin, 1975).

The reform movement that ended Suharto's 32 years of authoritarian rule has brought significant changes in Indonesia. It has liberated the market, the media, and the civil society from state repression. But in the Indonesian case, the triangle of free market, free media, and free civil society stand in a complex relationship to democracy. The newly liberated civil society becomes the home of undemocratic elements that are more than willing to open the "Pandora’s Box", releasing various long-buried social conflicts that involve ethnic, racial, religious and class divisions. Combined with the increasing pressure of the liberalised market and the weakening power of the state, the deep rooted social conflicts pose a threat to the functioning of media as public sphere for peaceful and rational public discourse in a democracy. While some media intentionally aligned their editorial policy with particular groups in conflicts, some other media exploit the conflicts and violence as commodity. While some media get involve in a circuit of conflict accumulation, some other media become the target of violence attacks from ethnic and religious groups in the conflicts. Thus, the value of free media for maintaining a free, rational and peaceful public discourse in a democracy, and for cultivating beliefs and norms that support democracy, remains in question.

The Changing Indonesia: Towards a Better Democracy?
The collapse of Suharto’s 32 years authoritarian rule has brought significant changes in the country, marked primarily by an erosion of state repression. While the social, political and economic conditions seem far from settled, reformasi (reformation) continues as the buzzword for the politicized segment in the country, demanding for a more open and democratic society, replacing both the authoritarian corporatism state and the crony capitalism economy that marked Suharto’s New Order regime. After the resignation of Suharto from Presidency on 21 May 1998, the subsequent administrations - under massive internal and external pressures for reformation -- had gradually freed the society, the market, and the media from state intervention.
The newly liberated civil society also expressed itself in the rise of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), advocacy groups, voluntary social and cultural organizations, independent labor unions, including some 24 new journalist associations. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are not a recent phenomenon in Indonesia. There have been a number of NGOs under the New Order regime. They include groups that advocate general public causes, such as women rights, human rights, democracy, environmental protection, community development etc. Some have even gained prominence in both national and international forums through their advocacy in various public causes, such as LBH (Lembaga Bantuan Hukum, Legal Aid Institute), and Walhi (Wahana Lingkungan Hidup, Indonesian Environmental Forum). Inspite of the structural constraints imposed by the regime, these NGOs have played an important role in strengthening and empowering civil society which was still weak then. The collapse of Suharto’s authoritarian regime gave birth to hundreds of new NGOs, from those that advocate transparency and government accountability (such as Government Watch, Corruption Watch, etc.) to those that concern with democratisation processes (e.g., Election Watch), or specific public cause (e.g., Urban Poor Consortium). Observers tend to agree that many of such organizations manage to improve their quality of activities (see, e.g., Tajoeddin, 2002; p. 23). In addition to that, the civil society is also gradually gaining supremacy over the military that was once deeply entrenched in day-to-day practical politics. In 1999, for the first time in more than three decades, Indonesians had a free general election in which 45 new political parties took part .
The market had been more liberalized through a series of “jungle clearing operations” to end a web of politically well-connected business privileges and monopolies that surrounds Suharto’s inner circle. Further, as a response to perceived association between the forces of free market and the collapse of Suharto’s authoritarian regime, there has been a welcome revival of neo-liberalism that claim economic liberalisation is a necessary pre-condition for democratisation. Accordingly, under the spirit to “leave everything to the market”, and following principles of “rational” market economy – specifically those that based upon prescriptions (or pressures) from financial multilateral institutions, i.e., the World Bank and the International Monetary Funds -- several public enterprises have been privatized, and a number of government subsidies have also been cut (e.g., subsidies for gas and electricity).
On the media sector, the liberalisation includes a series of deregulation, and more importantly, the liquidation of the Information Ministry, which was one among central features of Suharto’s authoritarian corporatism and responsible for a long record of press bans in the country. A year after the resignation of Suharto, the House of Representatives passed a new, liberating Press Law that, among other things, eliminates licensing requirements, removes government’s ability to ban publications, guarantees freedom of the press, and even imposes a stiff penalty of two years’ prison on “anyone who acts against the law by deliberately taking action which could obstruct the work of the press.” Since publishing license is no longer required by the new government, it is estimated that after Suharto’s fall in 1998, the number of newspapers soared from 300 to around 1.000, and the number of radio stations from 700 to more than 1.000 (Mangahas, in Johannen and Gomez, 2001; p.125). The new law undoubtedly conform with the spirit of global neo-liberalism by permiting foreigner to own up to 49 percent of shares in media agencies. While a new Broadcasting Bills is being redrawn by the parliament, 5 new private television companies entered the media market, competing with 5 other television companies that had already been in the market since early 1990s. The Indonesia’s media sector is now also producing almost any kind of political information and issues. Jonathan Turner, the Reuters bureau chief in Jakarta, agrees that “Indonesia has become one of the world’s most open communities in as much as you can pretty well write what you want without fear of official sanction” (quoted in Goodman, 2000).
Despite the progress of reformasi, the only thing that one can be certain of is that Indonesia in the future will be very different from today and yesterday. The emergence of newly liberated civil society, market, and media, is leading Indonesia towards a freer country. But questions remain: will the new equation of market-civil society-media improve the quality of democratic life in Indonesia? will the liberalisation of the media, the civil society, and the market amount to a more democratic Indonesia?
Democracy, we argue, implies not only a mechanism for people to participate in political processes, but also a communication system for all members of the society to discuss and develop opinions on issues that affect their lives, in order that their participation in political processes can be more meaningful. Central to the concept of democracy is the existence of media as institution for empowering society with values that support democracy, and as public sphere where all those participating in public discourse do so peacefully and rationally on an equal basis. Thus, it follows that a healthy media environment and reasoned public discourse is essential to the formation and maintenance of civil society in a democratic system.

The Opening of Pandora’s Box and the “Bad” Civil Society
The departure of Suharto’s authoritarian regime have been replaced by a more open and democratic yet weak governments, and the strengthening civil society. One may expect that a strong and vibrant civil society strengthens and enhances democracy.
However, the weakening power of the post-Suharto government to maintain social order, contributes to the transition of the country from being a society in which primordial-related tensions and animosities for the most part have been buried for many years -- by a combination of growing common identity of being Indonesian, state repressions, patronage and fiat -- to one which is torn apart by racial, ethnic, and religious conflicts. To make the matter worse, conflicts within the Indonesia’s newly liberated civil society have in many cases evolved into social violence in its most barbaric expressions. The situation is to some extent comparable to the East European cases when the weakening of the state has permitted various social conflict evolved into social and communal violence.
Since the mid-1998, numerous communal violence have occurred in various parts of the country. In addition to the violence during the East Timor transition to independence and continuing violence which is associated with separatist movements in Aceh and Papua, the country has experienced chronic communal violence between Christians and Muslims (in Poso, Ambon/Maluku, Mataram, and Kupang), between native and migrants (in Sambas, Sampit, Pangkalan Bun, and other areas in Kalimantan), and a series of violence attacks against Chinese (in Jakarta, Solo, and some other cities).
Indeed, communal violence has a long history in Indonesia, it can be traced back at least to the 1965-1966 massacre of suspected communists. However, a recent study by Tadjoeddin (2002), which was conducted for the United Nation Support Facility for Indonesian Recovery (UNSFIR), suggest that, in terms of the number of incidents and deaths, the scale of communal violence—the worst amongst categories of social violence in Indonesia—increased sharply after the fall of the New Order regime in 1998 (see Table 1). The study also indicates that communal violence related to ethnicity, religion, and native-migrant status is the most severe among other types of communal violence, such as. communal violence related to political views, civil commotion, and competition for resources (see Table 2).
Numerous observers advanced conspiracy theory that there was a systematic effort by the military and Suharto’s supporters to destabilize the country by orchestrating racial and religious conflicts between the pribumi (indigenous) and the Chinese, between Christian and Muslims, and between native and migrants. Such a theory is not without empirical basis. The Joint Fact Finding Team on the 13-15 May riots, for instance, implicated several high rank military officers in planning and using the riot for their own political purposes (Tim Gabungan Pencari Fakta, 1998).
Some of the voluntary organizations are indeed paramilitary organizations or vigilante groups, remnants of the New Order’s “Repressive State Apparatus” that comprise of political thugs. They were organized and used to maintain Suharto’s regime capacity to counter popular opposition. The mobilization of political thugs was a common feature of the Indonesian politics, especially during the New Order era. Groups such as the Pemuda Panca Marga, and the Pemuda Pancasila, had often been engaged by the Suharto regime to terrorize specific communities for political or commercial ends (see e.g., Bourchier, in Budiman, Hatley, and Kingsbury, 1999; pp. 149-171). At times of political tension, thugs were often used to do jobs that can not stand the light of day if they were to be linked the military, they have also been paid to clear the way for more military involvement in politics (van Klinken, 1996); at every election during the New Order era, they were used for intimidation; in several riots and students demonstrations, they have been used to provoke violent response from students as well as bystanders. Political thugs have also been beneficial for the New Order regime to intimidate political dissidents.
However, such a systematic effort by the military is clearly not a sufficient condition for the escalating violent communal conflicts. The violence conflicts have also been ignited by the existence of numerous factors and tendencies within the liberated civil society itself.
Many students of civil society acknowledge, civil society can be the home of dangerous illiberal elements, such as hate groups; these groups in many cases were responsible in promoting, organizing, and executing violence (see e.g., Chambers & Kopstein, 2001), and in some cases they were organized as responses to a chronic communal conflicts. In such a sense, the political value of civil society for peaceful and rational public discourses in a democracy is clearly becomes a contingent affair. The situation also applies for the Indonesian context.
Coupled with the weakening state power, the strengthened civil society has unleashed numerous long buried social ills of a society which is highly divided over ideology, dogma, ethnicity and primordial sentiment – factors that may become highly flammable fuel in conflicts. Even though many voluntary associations and non-government organizations are those that cross-cut the social, ethnic, religion, and racial divisions, the other side of the newly liberalized civil society is characterized by the rise of groups that have been organized along certain primordial lines, that advocate undemocratic causes, or feed hate, racism, gender bias, and enthusiastic to take law in their own hands.
Systematic study is needed to explore factors behind the rise of these groups, and to explain why people join “bad” organizations. For the Western European context, multiple studies have convincingly and repeatedly demonstrated that socioeconomic factors are very important in understanding why people join “bad” organizations; for example, there is a close link between high unemployment (as well as a host of other institutional, demographic, and nonsocioeconomic causes) and support for extremist groups and political parties (see Chambers & Kopstein, 2001). In contemporary Russia and in much of post-Communist Eastern Europe, right-wing skin heads and other extremist groups, as well as supporters of right-wing parties such as Barkashov’s Russian National Unity, tend to be drawn disproportionately from the downsized industrial suburban regions (see Kopstein and Hanson, 1997). These findings may be replicated in the Indonesian context where its economy is still struggling to recover from the 1997 economic crisis. Casual observations suggest that members of the “bad” organizations are very likely those who unemployed or half-employed (the activities of these groups, such as street demonstrations and fund rising drives, are often conducted during the workdays; and some of these groups even organize “boot camps” for weeks). This implies that, at the least, the failure of the free market to integrate a particular segment of the civil society contributes to the expansion of “bad” civil society.
Some analysts argues that these undemocratic forces are small, marginalized, and contained within particular segments of the society. Nonetheless, even the undemocratic forces are small in number today, and unable to directly destabilize the country through the mobilization of large numbers of people, their ideas and rhetoric may leak into the mainstream political discourse. The possibility for this has surfaced in several political events at national level. During the 1999 presidential election, for instance, the idea that a woman could not become head of state for religious reasons, was quick to enter national politics and developed into a crucial issue within the parliament to disqualify Megawati Soekarnoputri (chair of the PDI-P that scored highest popular votes in the election). For a more recent example, the People’s Representative Assembly (MPR), in its 2002 annual session has ratified a draft for economic recovery which gives priority to “indigenous” citizens, ignoring the existence of economically weak “non-indigenous” citizens.

“Civil Society in the Newsroom”
The strengthening of civil society has negative impacts on the quality of press freedom in the country; it becomes one among responsible factors for the emergence of violence attacks and intimidation against media institutions or journalists. In the New Order era, the media found their worst enemies in the repressive state apparatuses; but in the era of “reformasi”, the enemies come out of the “bad” elements within the newly liberated civil society.
Sources from various media organizations have admitted that they often have to submit to the pressure of the mobs and gangs, for the safety of their operation and their life. A report by SEAPA Jakarta’s Advocacy team indicates that journalism is indeed still a dangerous profession in the reformasi era (SEAPA, 2000). Between January and October 2000 alone, some 100 cases of violence and intimidation of the press have occurred; they include physical violence (assault, physical abuse, abduction, destruction of media facilities) and non-physical intimidation (threats, terror, abuse, and banning action). Another report, from the Independent Journalist Alliance (AJI, Aliansi Jurnalis Independent, 2001), recorded more than 80 violence attacks against the press during the 2001 period. The AJI report (2001) suggests that a majority of these attacks (77 out of 80) was conducted by paramilitary groups (e.g., Pemuda Pancasila), paramilitary forces or “task forces” connected with political parties that usually wear military-look uniforms (e.g., Satgas PDI-P or the Task Force of Partai Demokrasi Indonesia-Perjuangan,), religion-related organizations (e.g., Laskar Jihad, Front Pembela Islam, Front Umat Islam), and ethnic organizations (e.g., Satgas Papua, Ikatan Keluarga Madura di Surabaya, Gerakan Aceh Merdeka).
The most disturbing fact is that the attacks involved members of organizations or political parties which are widely regarded as reformist. For instance, the office of Jawa Pos, the largest daily in Surabaya, has been attacked and occupied by the Banser (the security task torce of Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Islamic organization in the country, the majority of which is supporter of the then President, Abdurrahman Wahid,). In another incident, supporters of PDI-P (which is chaired by the then Vice President, Megawati) attacked a photographer of a local daily (Surya). In both cases, the respective party leaders failed to show regret or to condemn the action of their party’s paramilitary forces.
What is also worth special attention is the violence perpetrated by religious groups or organizations. For instance, the occupation of the daily Bernas, in Yogyakarta, by Front Pemuda Islam Prambanan (Prambanan Islamic Youth Front), and, a radio station in Surakarta, Rasitania, was forced to out of the air by Forum Pemuda Muslim Surakarta (Surakarta Muslim Youth’s Forum) in which the police even acceded to the attackers’ demand to seize broadcasting equipment. The Islam Defenders’ Front (FPI, Front Pembela Islam) demanded a private television (SCTV) to stop a Latin film series, Esmeralda, simply because there is an antagonistic character in the film who named Fatima, which according to them was the name of Prophet Muhammad’s daughter. The station compromised with the demand by stopping the film in its 114 episode from a total of 134. Another group, the Army of Holy War, (Laskar Jihad) which have executed numerous acts of violence against journalists, and intimidation towards media organizations, was declared in 2000 by Aliansi Jurnalis Independen as the enemy of the press (SEAPA, 2000; AJI, 2001).
In most cases, the attacks and intimidations were caused by the disappointment with the media coverage, but instead of writing a rebuff to the editors they choose to attack the media physically; and despite the new press law that gives a stiff penalty on “anyone who obstruct the work of the press”, the attackers can — most of the time — get away with it.
The Pandora’s Box, however, has been selectively opened. The issue of the 1965-1966 massacre of suspected members of the banned Partai Komunis Indonesia (Indonesian Communist Party), for instance, remains in the sphere of deviance for the Indonesian media. For nearly three decades, under the Suharto’s regime, the discourse of “communism threat” has become a master narrative that served an indispensable function in the protracted political stability and impressive economic growth, and therefore secured the regime’s legitimacy. The master narrative had cultivated a genuine hatred against communism among a majority of Indonesians; and such a hatred lingers in post-Suharto era. Accordingly, on March 2001, when the newly-elected President Wahid asked for forgiveness for the role of his own Islamic organization, various groups and organizations sharply criticized, and the mass media showed no symphaty to the President’s stance (see Eriyanto, 2001b).
A media discourse analysis suggest that there is not much change in terms of how the media should and would avoid discussing communism in a relatively positive light (see Ansyori and Anto, 2001; Eriyanto, 2001a). Another analysis revealed that both partisan media and independent media tended to be one sided in their report on the issue of communism and the 1965-1966 affairs, they were dominated by accounts from military officers and known anti-communist figures (Sudibyo, 2001a). These studies suggest that balanced discussion on communism is within the sphere of deviance for the Indonesian public in general. Consequently, the truth about the 1965-1966 massacre is largely still untouch within the Pandora’s Box.
The possibility of mob attacks against media organizations, as a senior journalist mentioned, may also help to explain the behavior of most Indonesian press on the issue of communism and the 1965-1966 massacre. Moreover, on April 2001, Aliansi Anti Komunis (Anti-Communist Alliance), a coalition of 33 Islamic organizations and East-Timor pro-integration militias, burned books that, according to its leaders, promote communism; the same group also issued a threat to bookstores which sold communist and leftist books.

Media and the Return of “Gold, Glory, and Gospel”
Analyses on the media during the Suharto’s New Order have most frequently ended with conclusions about the regime pervasive control over the content, operation, personnel, and organization of the media, through censorship, press-bans, government-manufactured regulations, and vertical integration between the ruling elite and the press industry.
Nonetheless, even though the New Order regime had constantly controlled and used the media as instruments of domination and of legitimation, they could not always do so as they would wish. The regime operated, in Golding and Murdock’ words, within “a structure which constrains as well as facilitates, imposing limits as well as offering opportunities” (Golding & Murdock, 1991; p. 19). There was a combination of human agencies and structural factors that can be attributed to the existence of constraints for the regime to use the media as its instrument of domination.
Journalist were among those constraints. Especially since there seems to be an inherent critical impulse among the Indonesian journalists as many of them believe in the idea of the press as the “watchdog” or the “fourth estate”. They were constantly fought to develop resistance against the New Order’s repressive structure, advocating freedom of the press, democracy, human rights, gender equity, and various issues of public concern. Such journalists activism became more obvious after the banning of a leading newsmagazine, Tempo, in 1994, when a group of journalists managed to organize open challenges to the regime, by organizing rallies, forming an independent union (Aliansi Jurnalis Independen).
Some of these “activists” journalist went underground, and published alternative or underground media (printed and on-line media), such as Xpos, Suara Independen (the Independent Voice), and KdP, or Kabar dari Pijar (News from the Information Centre and Action Network for Reform). The objectivity criterion proved unsuitable for evaluating underground media contents, especially for underground media such as KdP (both in its print and Internet versions) since it was without doubt political pamphlets, and was designed from the start as a “fighting machine against repression” (see Menayang, Nugroho, and Listiorini, 2002).
For many “activist” journalists, it seems that objectivity, impartiality and neutrality have long been denied as part of standard journalist professionalism. In contrast to the “objectivist” journalists who are more preoccupied with professional standard for impartial and balanced reporting, these “activist” journalists prefer to perform as active participants in causes that cross-cut ethnic, race, and religious division. It seems that they perceived both “objectivity” and “neutrality” as dogmas of an ideology which itself biased against the functioning of journalists as watchdog. Their attitude may best be described in the words of a young journalist from a prestigious news magazine: “We can not stand neutral in front of democracy and totalitarianism, freedom and repression, right and wrong . . .”.
However, the euphoria of ‘reformasi” has brought into existence a number of partisan media and a new breed of “activist” journalists. This new breed of journalists, also refuses the idea of journalist as neutral and objective media worker, but instead of taking sides with values such as human rights and democracy, they align themselves with particular politicized group or segment of the population, including group which carry religion banner or which were organized on the basis of a particular primordial sentiment. The sidedness of this type of journalists might be best described in the agreement of a young journalist with the content of a poster which says: “Supporting Habibie is equal to supporting Islam, opposing Habibie is equal to opposing Islam” (Mendukung Habibie = mendukung Islam, menentang Habibie = menentang Islam). Thus, what matter most to him is the fact that Habibie is a Muslim, regardless of what Habibie may do with his presidency. The chance is good that we could also find such an attitude among Christian journalists.
The rise of media that aligned their editorial policy with particular political party or religious group, especially after 1998, enchanced the opportunity for the new “activist” journalists to find channel of expression for their politicized primordial sentiments and loyalties. Even casual observation to media report on inter-ethnic or inter-religion conflicts may easily detect the presence of biases or one-sidedness which ground on a particular primordial sentiment or loyalty.
In the case of conflicts in Maluku, each local media aligned their contents with a particular side. “Christians newspapers” (i.e., those which are owned and largely staffed by Christians, such as Siwalima, and Suara Maluku) tend to use sources from Christian communities and give favorable picture to the Christians side and portray them as victims; whereas “Muslims newspapers” (i.e., owned and almost exclusively staffed by Muslims, e.g., Ambon Ekspress) use sources that predominantly favorable to the Muslims side, and portray the Muslims as a group which must to defense itself. Each side also tend to present its report on a dichotomy of “us” against “them”, and within the rhetoric of war, such as pasukan Merah (the red army, i.e., the Christians) and pasukan Putih (the white army, i.e., the Muslims).
Such a tendency is not confined to the local media in Ambon and Maluku alone, especially after the conflicts in Ambon sparked reactions from various groups in the capital city of Jakarta. When a number of Islamic groups organized a mass rally in Jakarta (7 January 2000) and issued a call for jihad in a response to the continuing conflict in Ambon, numerous newspapers in Jakarta tend to construct the news based upon selected facts (Sudibyo, 2001b). On the one hand, Republika, a daily newspaper staffed predominantly by members of Ikatan Cendekiawan Muslim Indonesia (ICMI, the Association of Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals), give a favorable portrayal to the call, by giving exclusive access to the opinions of Muslim figures who support the call for Jihad. On the other hand, Suara Pembaruan, which is owned and predominantly staffed by Christians, tended to give more access to Muslim figures who criticized the call for jihad (e.g., Abdurrahman Wahid, the then President).
The “Christians” media tend to portray the conflict within the “terrorism” frame, especially after the 11 September tragedy in New York, by relating the Muslims with Afghan fighters who reportedly started to enter Ambon. While on the other side of the conflict, there is a strong tendency among a number of media to go deeper into the Pandora’s Box, by framing the conflict in Ambon within a long buried sentiment which is dated back to several centuries ago when the Western countries conquered and exploited the rest of the world, and spread their religion. Consider this headline that appeared on a magazine: “Membongkar Praktek GGG: Gold – Glory – Gospel: The Moslem Cleansing di Ambon” (Exploring the GGG practice: Gold-Glory-Gospel: The Moslem Cleansing in Ambon -- Suara Hidayatullah, Oktober 1999).
In general, numerous “Islamic” newspapers and magazines tend to portray the conflict within the frame of “Gold, Glory, and Gospel”, among other things by reporting cases of possible “Christianization”, accusing the Christians as the lackey of foreign interest, labeling international NGOs in Ambon as a form of “imperialisme modern” (modern imperialism), associating the Christians with the RMS, or Republik Maluku Selatan (Republic of South Maluku) or Republik Maluku Serani (Republic of Christian Maluku).
The situation are even more serious that the Internet has broadened the conflicts beyond a particular geographic boundary. While a number of websites drum up support and symphaty for the Christians in Ambon (some of the websites are managed from abroad), several other websites regularly posted one-sided reports about the “brutality” and the “gold-glory-gospel” practices of the Holly Cross army (Pasukan Salib). The Laskar Jihad Online (, for example, posted a report of an allegedly victims of Kristenisasi (Christianization) in Ambon (“Koordinator Pengungsi THR Menjadi Korban Kristenisasi”), and a provocative headlines such as this: “Angkot Kristen Lakukan Tabrak Lari di Galunggung” (“Hit and run by a Christian’s city transport”).
There seem to be a” never-ending circuit of symbolic violence accumulation” in media contents. It is very likely that such media portrayal of violence would maintain and reproduced hatreds and more violence within society. Thus, in a sense, the media may be part of “a never-ending circuit of violence and conflicts accumulation.”

Conflict and never-ending circuit of capital accumulation
The media market liberalisation that have been implemented by the post-Suharto administrations through a series of deregulation policies, is basically a turn from state regulation toward market regulation, whereby the operation of the industry is primarily left to market mechanism, rather than to state intervention. Market partisants, or advocates of the liberal political-economic perspective in various universities or academic communities, also tend to uphold the proposition that liberalisation or deregulation of the media industry will support a process of democratisation, creating a free-market place of ideas where the public has the sovereignity to determine which media products they will consume.
Indeed, the deregulation, on the one hand, freed the media from government repression and intervention; yet, on the other, it makes the media become more vulnerable to the “market dictatorship”. The “market dictator” enforce the logic or the imperative of “never-ending circuit of capital accumulation” (or M – C – M : Money – Commodities – More Money). In turn, the imperative of capital accumulation constructs a market structure within which media plunged into a fierce competition for sales and ratings. The same market imperative also works consistenly to exclude media organizations that lack the capital base required to face the market competition or that less oriented toward the market demand. In the newspaper sector, it is estimated that out of 1000 newspapers which emerged during the 17-month Habibie presidency, only some 600 to 700 remained in the market when Abdurrahman Wahid inaugurated as President in October 1999 (Mangahas, in Johannen and Gomez, 2001; p.125).
The logic of capital accumulation also dictates a logic of exclusion. This helps determine who will get access to the media, and whose views and issues are to be reported on the media. Under the repressive New Order’s state regulation, it was the ruling regime that had special access to the media, to define among other things what were the most important issues facing the country. It was mandatory for the private television stations, for instance, to relay carefully scripted, state-prepared newscasts, and Laporan Khusus (Special Reports) from the government-owned television (TVRI). But now, under the “market dictatorship”, as media facing a more intense competition, it is becoming more apparent that those who have economic resources will gain more access to the media. A naked example of this took place on mid-August, 2000, when an indigenous business magnate appeared on three out of five private television channels, simultaneously, for more than one hour, just to sing with his band and expressed his opinions on various political, social, and economic issues through a well-planned interview with two well-known political analysts.
The same logic also determines that sometimes media are free only to the extent that their owners and editors allow them to be free. A report from Aliansi Jurnalis Independen suggests that the bargaining power of journalists against the media owners or managers is generally weak, and a journalist could be fired if the media owner dislikes his or her news reports (AJI, 2001; pp. 68-72).
Lowly paid journalists in a highly competitive market also creates another threat to the functioning of press in a democratisation process. While people just started buying the whole time slots on television broadcast, it is becoming more common for the interested elites to do what is called “memelihara wartawan” (to domesticate reporters). A report reveals that one large textile company during 2001 spent more than Rp 450 million on "media-related expenses", which included monthly fees for reporters, photographers and senior editors; a large portion of the money goes in envelopes that are given out quietly at press conferences, the rest is budgeted for gifts, direct deposits into journalists' bank accounts or shares in companies (Perry, 2002). Such a practice will certainly give a favorable media portrayal to the company in times of dispute with its workers.
Although the operation of the media industry is primarily left to market forces, the government remains in a relatively strong position to interven with the media. A report by South-East Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) indicates that last year 64 state-owned companies and government departments paid more than 900 billion rupiah ($173 million) under the guise of pembinaan wartawan, or nurturing journalists (Perry, 2002).
Even though media tends to ignore class imbalance and antagonism, they on the other hand exploits conflicts in certain dimensions (e.g. conflict between political parties, or war). as a commodity. Cross-cultural observations have shown that social conflicts of such dimension are the most dominant focus points exploited by television as information commodities (Cohen, Adoni, and Bantz, 1990). In the Indonesian case, liberalisation of the media industry gives more rooms to “market partisants” or “market fundamentalists” for maneuvering in the industry. These “market partisants” help unleashed tendency to sensationalism, exploiting conflicts and neglecting reconsiliatory public discussions, in order to survive fierce market competition or to accumulate capital. This tendency can especially be found in “independent” issue-driven tabloids or newspapers that their revenues are mainly from street sales (it was estimated that tabloids has subscribers less than 5% on the average). One does not have to employ a sophisticated discourse analysis in order to sense such a tendency among numerous media in Jakarta. Consider news headlines such as these:

• “Israel Babi!!” (Israel Pig!),
• “Amerika, Setan!” (Amerika, Devil)
• “Duet Osama-Saddam Siap Hancurkan Bush” (Osama-Saddam Duo Ready to Destroy Bush)
• “Menteri Djatun Antek Yahudi” (Minister Djatun Jew’s Lackey)
• “Ayo Mahasiswa . . . Rebut Kursi Akbar” (Students, Let’s Seize Akbar’s Seat) .
• “PDI-P Pengecut!” (PDI-P Coward!)
• “Sutiyoso Pengecut” (Sutiyoso Coward)

The logic behind the circuit of capital accumulation also find its peculiar expression in a circuit of symbolic violence accumulation in media contents. A content analysis on 4 major Jakarta tabloid, reveals that in addition to a strong tendency to give favorable portrayal to a particular side in Ambon (Sudibyo, 2001c), these tabloids also failed to resist the excitement of using the rhetoric of war, or bombastic and hyperbolic words in their news reports on Ambon. They prefer words such as ladang pembantaian (slaughter field), perang salib (holy war), Bosnia kedua (second Bosnia), Kristenisasi (Christianization), and “Moslem cleansing”.
Such symbolic violence accumulation could contribute to the maintenance and the reproduction of conflicts and violence among the consumers of the media. In turn, the reproduced conflicts and violence could again be exploited by the same media as commodities -- and the process goes on and on. Thus, in some cases, the circuit of capital accumulation and the circuit of conflict accumulation operate on parallel tracks. A study of riots in several West Java cities also suggests the possibility of such a phenomenon (Rusadi, 2002).

Conclusions and Some Implications
This paper set out to analyze the triangle interaction among media, market, and civil society, in order to examine the notion that the emergence of newly freed media, free market, and free civil society are necessary conditions for a more democratic political life. There is no simple and clear-cut conclusion that could be drawn from the analysis. But, at the least, our analysis of the Indonesian case first and foremost suggests that the relationship between the triangle of free market – free civil society – free media to democracy should be specifically contextualized, and be analyzed as a historically contingent affairs.
There is no doubt that for the truly functioning democracy, freedom of the press from state repression should be guaranted as anyone who has experienced the life under Suharto’s authoritarian corporatism regime would testify. But, our analysis also suggests that, within a specific historical juncture of post-Suharto era, free media, in a free market and free civil society, stands in a complex relationship to democracy.
One may assume that “where civil society is vibrant and strong, so too will there be a less fettered media; conversely, where the media is free, civil society will grow sinews of strength much faster, more assuredly” (see Mangahas, in Johannen and Gomez, 2001 ; p.123). Nevertheless, the newly liberated civil society in the current context of Indonesia becomes the home of undemocratic elements, capable of opening the "Pandora’s Box", releasing various social conflicts that involve ethnic, racial, religious and class divisions which for the most part have long been buried. The failure of the free market to integrate a particular segment of the civil society also contributes to the expansion of “bad” civil society. The strengthening civil society thus creates a new threat to the functioning of media as public sphere for peaceful and rational public discourse in a democracy. While some media intentionally aligned with particular groups in conflicts, some other media become a target of violence attacks from ethnic and religious groups in the conflicts.
The results is indeed a diversity in media contents, which is often regarded as a desirable consequence of media freedom or as a goal of media activity; it is also often considered as essential to democratic systems where alternative political ideas and policy options are offered competitively (see McQuail, 1987; p. 128). But in the specific context of Indonesia, where the “bad” elements of the civil society have the strength to influence the construction of news, the diversity of media contents is often accompanied by expressions of hatred, misrepresentation, falsehood, and inflammatory or provocative symbolic realities which tend to rule out reconciliatory information; and in most cases such expressions relate to ethnic, racial, religious and other primordial division. With such a diversity, if the question is whether or not the diversity of media contents would be able to support the existence of rational and peaceful public spheres, then the indications are not quite encouraging.
Market fundamentalists may also argue that “the greater the play of the market forces, the greater the freedom of the press; the greater the freedom of the press, the greater the freedom of consumer choice”. However, within the current specific historical juncture of post-Suharto era, the liberated media from state control represents a paradox. The freedom to write and broadcast news is also expressed as the freedom to sell news in an increasingly competitive market, which itself dictates the logic of capital accumulation that often lead the media to sensationalism and to exploit conflicts. In this sense, the circuit of capital accumulation in media market may find its expression in the circuit of conflict accumulation in society, within which media are part of it.
Indeed, not every media in the country performs as what this paper describes. There are numerous media which starts to practice “peace journalism”, in order to perform as impartial and balanced public spheres where citizens can find reasoned discussions about problems and choices. However, this demonstrated that the market will be stratified into segment of the “peaceful media” (or “quality media”) on the one hand, and segment of the “war-monger media” (or “yellow media”) on the other hand. This means that the media fail to provide all citizens with the same quality of information and opinions. This would pose a problem for the functioning of a democracy, since from the point of view of democratic theories, it is essential that the same quality and variety of information and debate be available to all citizens equally (see Parks, 1992; p.43).
The media market liberalization, or deregulation, is basically a turn from state regulation toward market regulation. Both produce flaws and problems for the functioning of media in democratic systems. The debates on the role of state in media industries frequently lead to the choice between market regulation (deregulation) and state regulation (Mosco, 1996; p. 201). Nonetheless, from a critical political economy point of view, what matter most is the merits of different forms of regulation for the interest of public. The debates come down to several forms of direct public intervention or participation in the media; in the broadcasting sector, several alternatives have been offered, to include public broadcasting, public access television (see Kellner, 1990), community broadcasting, and several other forms of public intervention or participation.
The same debate is now also take place in the post-Suharto Indonesia. The country has experienced state regulation on the media that was done on behalf of the public, and it did not look good at all. There is now a strong drive and persistent advocacy to established direct public intervention and participation in the media sector. Nevertheless, great care and caution are warranted because of the specific character of the newly liberated civil society in Indonesia. Public direct intervention, as shown by the mob attacks on media outlets in the post-Suharto period, certainly poses no less threat to the quality of media content. The same would also be true if the “bad” elements of the newly liberated civil society establish their own “public broadcasting” or “community broadcasting”, especially in the area of conflicts.
Finding forms and mechanism for direct public intervention and participation in the media sector seems to be a fruitful direction for research on media and democracy


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