Appropriate Timing for Delayed Digital Migration
The communication and informatics ministry has announced the result of the multiplexing (mux) organizers’ selection process. However, a number of private television broadcasters protested it. Communication and Informatics Minister Johnny Gerard Plate spoke to Tempo’s Khairul Anam.
AFTER almost six decades on air, analog television broadcasting is on the brink of switching to digital. The deadline for the analog switch off (ASO) is drawing near. Migration towards digital programming, based on Law No. 11/2020 on Job Creation, has a deadline of November 2, 2022.
The Communication and Informatics Ministry in April announced the winners of the multiplexing (mux) organizers’ selection process. It decided who can control frequency allotment and digital broadcasting in 22 provinces. However, the selection result sparked protests from a number of private television broadcasters. Communication Minister Johnny Gerard Plate spoke to Tempo’s Khairul Anam on Friday, May 7, to explain the selection process, and plans for the migration next year.
How was the selection for the mux organizers for 22 provinces done?
The Job Creation Law stipulates two models of mux organizers. The first one is called evaluation, and the other one is the selection method. The evaluation method in 12 existing broadcasting regions is already well established. Then, there are 22 regions which still need to be set up. Then a selection was done. I asked a team or a committee to take a broader perspective on our broadcasting industry, and how it should develop into the future. Those 22 regions, equivalent to 43 channels, are divided according to service regions. If I’m not mistaken, Emtek (Elang Mahkota Teknologi) got nine regions, Metro also got another nine, and so forth, for a total of 43 mux slots.
The Indonesian Association of Private Television Stations, headed by the MNC, refutes the result of the mux organizers’ selection. What is your response?
(The selection result) cannot please all parties. If 43 slots are available, and there is demand for 100, would it be possible to satisfy everyone? The concept is not competition within the broadcasting industry, but healthy competition within Indonesia’s digital space.
They also question why Nusantara TV clinched the mux organizing right for Bali and Lampung.
Nusantara TV is among those not evaluated in the 12 regions. What is the fuss? Those arguments have already been presented to the ministry, and have been answered.
Why do you think the digital migration process kept getting delayed, even though it has already been in the planning for years?
It has yet to be completed because there are television stations which want to go digital, while others want to hold on to analog. Thus, the process carries on. Some agree, others disagree. However, we cannot let this situation go and on, because the development of the business and industry is changing rapidly. As soon as the over-the-top (OTT) services are present, along with fast technology, funding, management, and business decisions, the market is developing at such a rapid pace. That impacts the broadcasting industry, including the shifting advertising market. Almost 80 percent of ads have now shifted to OTT, leaving only 20 percent behind.
Are the above factors the reason why the Job Creation Law gave such a tight ASO deadline of only two years?
We are among the countries which are already very late in executing ASO, as we have already exceeded the commitment made at the ITU (International Telecommunication Union). Indonesia’s ASO decision is already correct, even though it is late. That’s why we have to move fast: two years, 2022. If not, it will just drag on.
What are the next steps to prepare for the ASO in November 2022?
There are two sides. The first one is that of digital television organizers, while the other is digital programming users. From the side of the organizers, they must build infrastructure so that they can broadcast digitally. After they do that, viewers must be able to receive the programming. Their devices must be able to receive digital programs. We follow DVB-T2, digital video broadcasting—second generation terrestrial. Not all TV sets are currently on DVB-T2. Those who are not must prepare interface equipment, connectors, or set-top boxes (STB).
When deciding on the 12 regions, the government had made a commitment to provide set-top boxes.
Set-top boxes were one of the topics discussed during the evaluation in the 12 service regions. This is being discussed. We are hoping for one combined policy: for the broadcasting industry, the government, and especially for the viewers.
Is there a possibility of the government subsidizing procurement?
Don’t jump ahead from the current discussions and negotiations. Because we must seek one optimal point in the interest of the industry. The government has purchasing needs, huge needs, and extraordinary fiscal pressure due to Covid-19. On the other hand, there is protection for television viewers. We must keep those in balance. STB costs around Rp200,000 per unit. We will try to find a way where all parties contribute towards this. If you ask me now, there is no answer yet. The baby is yet to be born, and you are already asking if he/she is beautiful or not.