Despite the recent growth of digital media, television is still the most popular medium. In 2016, data from the Central Bureau of Statistics (abbreviated in Indonesian as BPS) revealed that most of the population, as many as 91.5 percent, watched television. Television is still also the medium with the largest advertisement share. In 2017, according to the record of Nielsen, the advertisement segment of television reached 80 percent of all media. Of the total amount for 2017, TV advertisement (gross amount) was IDR115.8tn (US$ 8.4bn ).
Indonesia recognizes 4 kinds of televisions, they are: public television (public institution with educational content), private television (commercial entities broadcasting commercial programmes), community television (serving a specific territorial or business community), and subscribed television (with audiences subscribing a fee). Up to 2012, according to data from the Ministry of Communication and Information, there were 459 television stations, of which 12 were public, 212 private, 11 community stationsand 124 subscribed televisions. The data referred to the amount of televisions owning a permit approved by the government, a figure which might not always reflect the actual number of local television stations. That is because there are some stations that are not operational even if they are approved (for example they only did a trial broadcasting, only prepared tools, etc).
For more than 30 years, television was entirely controlled by the government, Televisi Republik Indonesia (TVRI), operating since 24 August 1962. The funding of TVRI derived from the government budget and the audience contribution. Advertisement was prohibited. Generally, TVRI only broadcasted biased information on the government’s activities. In 1989, the government allowed the operation of a private television namely Rajawali Citra Television Indonesia (RCTI). This television relied all funding on advertisement. RCTI broadcasted many entertainment programs, and soon became popular. Besides RCTI, other private televisions were established in the following years: SCTV (1990), TPI (1991) that later became MNCTV (2010), Indosiar (1995), ANTV (1993), MetroTV (2000), TransTV (2001), TV 7 (2001) that later became Trans 7 (2006), GTV (2002) and Lativi (2002) that later became TVOne (2008), SUNTV (2007) that later became iNews ( 2015), Q Channel (1998) that changed into Berita Satu (2011), Spacetoon (2005) that became NET (2013), B-Channel (1999) that changed into RTV (2014) and Kompas TV (2011).
Such private televisions are all based in Jakarta and broadcast nationally to all regions of Indonesia through transmitter stations. Common criticisms regards the prominence given to Javanese culture and events happening in Jakarta, whereas, Indonesia has hundreds of local cultures and languages. In 2002, a Broadcasting Law was issued and implemented through the Regulation of the Ministry of Communication and Information Number 43 of 2009. Through the regulation, televisions that broadcast throughout the country must hold a cooperation with the local televisions. For example, a television from Jakarta that intends to be watched by audiences in Ambon, must hold a cooperation with the local television in Ambon. According to the data from Ministry of Communication and Information, till 2012, the number of local televisions that obtained a permit reached 335. The large number of local televisions may be supported by an expectation of investment prospect provided that the networking broadcasting has been fully implemented. The local televisions can expect cooperation and advertisement shares from the televisions in Jakarta.
The networking system should have allowed more diversity of contents and a shared access to advertising revenues. Yet the clash of interests among operators makes the rules hard to implement and result in a sharp divide between national and local broadcasts. Importantly, the terms national and local television are not mentioned in the Broadcasting Law, which only refers to “private television.”
A measurement on television audience routinely held by Nielsen Media Research revealed that in 2012, the range of audience segment (share) of local television was only 3 percent. The majority of television audience in Indonesia (97 percent) watched national channels. Besides the audience segment, the advertisement segment of local television was also limited. Local televisions only gained 2.4 percent of the total television expenditure. The remaining 97.6 percent of advertisement expenditure was controlled by national televisions. The data on the audience and advertising segments revealed that although the number of local televisions is very large, they only grabbed a very small audience and limited advertising. National televisions are still the main player.
Of the 15 national televisions, 5 compete for the largest audience: RCTI, SCTV, Indosiar, ANTV, and Trans TV. The television arena shows the same concentration of media ownership of other media industries in Indonesia. Currently, the occurrence of a merger between televisions makes television directed toward a concentration of ownership. Recently, there are 4 TV groups: Media Nusantara Citra Group (RCTI, MNC TV, Global TV); Trans Corp/PARA Group (Trans TV, Trans 7); Visi Media Asia/Bakrie Group (ANTV, TV One) and Emtek (SCTV, Indosiar).
Subscribed television, either via wire, satellite or Internet protocol is growing. In various communities in urban areas, the service of subscribed television is preferred because besides obtaining complete information and entertainment channels, it has a clear signal. The competition among the subscribed television providers makes the cost of subscription relatively affordable.