INDONESIA: Indonesian viewers to miss a televised Olympics again

Local broadcasters find the rights too expensive to purchase since it attracts few advertisers and viewers

The Jakarta Post
Saturday, July 5, 2008

BY Niken Prathivi and Damar Harsanto

For the second time in a row, Indonesians will miss their chance to watch the Olympic Games live and free of charge, as no local broadcaster has made plans to air the Beijing Games next month.

After the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, when the country's TV audience enjoyed free coverage of the quadrennial event aired by private television station RCTI, viewers had to subscribe to cable TV Kabelvision to witness the glorious moment of Indonesian shuttler Taufik Hidayat winning the gold at the 2004 Athens Games.

"Unfortunately, no Indonesian broadcaster has yet taken the broadcast rights," said John Barton, director for sports at the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), which represents 28 Asian countries in airing the Olympics.

ANTV, partly owned by worldwide TV STAR, said it had no plan to broadcast the world's top sporting event due to "pricey rights." "It's too costly for us to run a program that attracts not many advertisers and viewers," ANTV's general manager for sports programming Reva Deddy Utama told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

"In 2000, the offering price was around US$2 million. This year, I believe it will be much higher," he added.

The rights for broadcasting the Beijing Games has reportedly soared to $13.7 million, but the ABU has declined to confirm the figure.

Deddy added that the event was not saleable since badminton is the only sport featuring Indonesian athletes playing well.

"And there is no package on offer to buy broadcasting rights per sport event." According to Deddy, the biennial Southeast Asian Games was more preferred by his company's sport advertisers -- often cigarette and energy drink companies -- than the Olympics, since the former held higher chances of seeing Indonesian athletes win medals.

In Athens, Indonesia brought home one gold and one silver from weightlifter Lisa Rumbewas and two bronze from shuttler Sony Dwi Kuncoro and men's doubles Flandy Limpele and Eng Hian.

State Minister for Youth and Sports Affairs Adhyaksa Dault said earlier that Indonesia aimed to mirror the feat in Beijing.

"We will strive to maintain our tradition to bring home a gold medal during the Games," he said.

Voicing similar concern over the price, RCTI also said it had no plan to purchase the rights again.

"We cannot afford the expensive rights," RCTI manager Dini Putri told the Post.

RCTI along with TPI and Global TV under the MNC Group aired the successful 2008 Euro soccer championship last month.

RCTI program director Harsiwi Ahmad added that RCTI would focus on some local major events in the next months and had no plans to buy the Olympic rights.

Separately, while refusing to reveal exact figure of the rights, ABU director John Barton emphasized that the price was not the only issue.

"The Olympic Games is worth something to many people, more than just money," he said.

He added that Indonesian broadcasters still had one week before the deadline to submit a proposal for purchasing the rights.

"It is still possible for Indonesia to buy the rights," he said.