Inspired by the growing reach of social networking sites, as seen in the online movements to support Prita Mulyasari and the Corruption Eradication Commission, a 20-something guitarist concerned with the poor quality of television programming in Indonesia has created a Facebook page to lift his cause.
And according to online traffic, thousands of others believe in what he’s fighting for.
Since Roy Thaniago launched Masyarakat Anti Program Televisi Buruk (Community Against Bad Television Programs) less than a month ago, more than 2,300 people have already signed up to support it, and he’s getting hundreds more by the hour.
“I came up with idea because I am fed up with the content of television programs,” Roy told the Jakarta Globe on Thursday.
Usually, sharp criticism of low-quality television broadcasting comes primarily from academics and intellectuals and “lacks the element of people power,” Roy said.
“The television stations have been turning a deaf ear to the criticism. They have no heart and only think about ratings without considering their programs’ impact on the people,” said Roy, who is also a writer and observer of artistic and culture issues. He said that poor broadcasting also encompassed news media, citing Metro TV and TV One, the country’s two news channels, as often ignorant of journalistic ethics.
“Sometimes TV One’s news programs can be too bombastic, and its on-air debate involving two opposing sides often only exacerbates the conflict,” Roy said.
Media analyst Ignatius Haryanto, who is also a supporter of Roy’s Facebook’s effort, told the Globe that the group’s membership numbers so far were reasonably good, even though the issue was not political.
“This shows that there are public rejections of poor television programs and I support the idea,” Ignatius said, adding that this could be an eye-opener to commercially oriented private television stations.
Media expert Abdullah Alamudi, himself a staunch critic of bad television, welcomed the movement and hoped that the number of supporters would increase.
“It is the citizens’ right to complain about the contents of television programs,” Alamudi said, adding that he hoped the group’s supporters could flood the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) and private television stations with criticism.
In his online description of his group’s Facebook page, Roy said in might initiate a boycott of products advertised on low-rung programs in its efforts to pull the plug on lackluster television programming.
Alamudi said that such boycotting had proved effective in other countries to put pressure on television stations to discontinue poor programs.
However, despite the growing number of supporters, Roy said that he had some doubts about the supporters’ commitment to the cause.
“Joining a cause group on Facebook does not require much effort than a click,” Roy said, adding that he often wondered if some of the members were only following the growing trends of joining a cause group on the popular social networking site.
However, he said he maintained his optimism on the group’s movement, thanks to the lively online discussion among some of the most active members as well as positive feedback to his initiative.
“I think there is no other way to oppose them but to call on people to shun poor programs,” Roy said.