Jakarta – The supervisory board of public television broadcaster TVRI has criticized its former president director, Helmy Yahya, who was fired from his position after purchasing the rights to broadcast the English Premier League. The board said the program was counter to the nation's identity.
TVRI supervisory board chairman Arief Hidayat Thamrin said during a meeting with House of Representatives' members on Tuesday that state-owned television was supposed to deliver educational shows with nationalistic values for the public.
"TVRI's main duty, as stipulated by its vision and mission, is to be public television. We're not privately-owned, so our priority is to educate, give a sense of identity and be the media that unites the nation," Arief told lawmakers as quoted by kompas.com, "Those are our priorities. But in reality, we're watching Premier League shows."
In addition to the Premier League, he also mentioned Helmy's decision to purchase broadcasting rights to the Discovery Channel.
"We're watching African crocodiles on the Discovery Channel, even though the Indonesian ones are probably much better," Arief said.
Arief said that TVRI aired a lot of foreign shows under Helmy's leadership, which he assumed was caused by the former president director's concerns about ratings and share values, which he said drove Helmy away from TVRI's vision and mission.
"[Helmy] treated TVRI as if it was a privately-owned channel, even though it's a public one," he said.
On Friday last week, Helmy said in a press conference that he was fired by the TVRI supervisory board from his position after he made the "extraordinary purchase" of Premier League broadcasting rights.
Pamungkas Trishadiatmoko, a supervisory board member, previously argued that the purchase of Premier League broadcasting rights might create debt for the state-owned television provider, which might be unable to pay for the program, creating scandals similar to state insurer Jiwasraya.
Pamungkas cited Helmy's words that the Premier League would be broadcasted on TVRI free of charge.
However, Pamungkas argued that it would cost Rp 126 billion (US$9.2 million) to broadcast the Premier League in three sessions from 2019 to 2022.
"Every session costs US$3 million for 76 matches, equivalent to Rp 552 million per match," he said, adding that at a cost of Rp 15 million per episode, the money for one match could be used to fund 37 episodes of other TVRI programs.
During a press conference on Friday of last week, Helmy assured the public that the supervisory board had agreed to the broadcasting rights purchase.
However, TVRI Program and Broadcasting Department director Apni Jaya Putra said that Helmy had only reported the purchase to the supervisory board during a meeting on July 17, 2019. (dpk)