Ramadani Saputra, Jakarta – A group of sportscasters working for state-owned TV broadcaster TVRI is demanding up to seven months in back salaries, claiming they haven't been paid since the middle of last year. The total amount, according to the sportscasters, is around Rp 900 million (US$61,000).
Comprising prominent sports figures and former athletes such as the Atlanta Olympics gold medalist Ricky Subagja and former national shuttler Yuni Kartika, the sportscasters expressed their disappointment in a YouTube talk show hosted by sports commentator Valentino Simanjuntak on May 4.
During the show, the sportscasters told Valentino that TVRI had not told them when they would receive their salaries.
Ricky, the host of a badminton program, said he and his coworkers had tried to meet with TVRI's finance director but to no avail.
"The director promised to pay our salaries on a certain date, but we received nothing," he said.
"We didn't start talking about this because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We still don't know what we're going to do after this," Ricky said, adding TVRI executives would always pass them off to other departments without providing clarity.
Yuni said the broadcaster's management had repeatedly said that a long line of administrative steps had to be taken first before they secured the green light to disburse the funds.
"We have tried to discuss this matter but to no avail. [The reason] is always because TVRI is a state-owned broadcaster so it would face a lot of administrative processes," Yuni said.
She added that the current change of management might also hinder the settlement of this problem. She was referring to the firing of executive director Helmi Yahya in January by the TVRI supervisory board for allegedly commercializing some of its programs.
When contacted, TVRI's head of sports broadcasting, Sus Irianto, said he would discuss the matter internally before issuing any comments.
Helmy, a former TV personality, was considered a breath of fresh air for the state-owned broadcaster, which is struggling to stay relevant amid other programs offered by private television networks.
When elected as the company's executive director in 2017, Helmy revamped TVRI's logo and brought top programs like the English Premier League and made the public television a dedicated badminton channel that regularly airs badminton tournaments.
TVRI supervisory board chairman Arief Yahya, however, thought that airing programs like the English Premier League was not in line with the nation's identity and could lead to financial difficulties for the public television.
The English Premier League is one of the programs whose hosts' had not been receiving their salaries for months. Former national futsal head coach Justinus Lhaksana said he received his first and only salary since joining TVRI to host the program in August 2019.
Justinus acknowledged that some of the sportcasters had been paid their January salaries but were still expecting their pay from before that.