Political Economy of Sport Broadcasting: Assessing Indonesian PSB Policy in Sport Broadcasting (Masduki)

First Published January 23, 2017

The increasing presence of sport broadcasting on public service broadcasters in Indonesia is driven by a mixture of interests. It may serve as a tool for education and entertainment as well as for increasing awareness of ‘symbolic nationalism’. Sport can also be used as a soft political campaign in the electoral system or even for pragmatic business purposes. This article assesses the sport broadcasting histories and policies of two Indonesian public service broadcasters: Radio of the Republic of Indonesia, and Television of the Republic of Indonesia. It assesses two political periods: the authoritarian period (1966–1998) and the transition towards a more liberal system (1998-present). Furthermore, this article critically examines both the political and economic interests behind the mediated sport policy. In addition, it intends to fill the gap in studies on sport policy, specifically public service broadcaster sport programming in transitional states. This study found that a change in the political structure resulted in unstable policies of sport broadcasting in Indonesian public broadcasters.

Sports, broadcasting, and politics enjoy a symbiotic relationship model in global society that profoundly affects trust towards broadcast policy, viewership, and institutional sustainability. Sport is a cultural product that develops within socio-history and within a political context (Brown, 2004), while the media is considered a social institution. In this sense, both sport and broadcasters aim to reach the public such as spectators, fans, consumers, or citizens, while the state plays a significant role in shaping macro policy and intervening in production processes for political interest. Some authors have shown this in previous research (Dart, 2012; Lin et al., 2009; Smith et al., 2015; Whannel, 2008).

State Broadcasters as well as Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) systems are a contested arena of government, market, and public interests. Scholars differentiate State Broadcasters from PSBs according to the following criteria: ownership, funding, employment status, and service remits (Jakobuwicsz, 2008; Harding, 2015; Smith, 2002). A state broadcaster system is under government control. The content relates primarily to government interests and the employees are mostly of a civil servant status. Conversely, PSBs are held and regulated by the public as their owner, being supervised by an autonomous board of trustees. They have their own employees and offer a range of programmes for public interest.

Sport broadcasting on PSBs is more complex than that of private broadcasters because it deals with politics and politicians, who interfere with policy design. In the state broadcaster model, the ruling regime, as the owner and financier, may remit and define the type of programme, including sport, as an instrument of their political propaganda (Brown, 2004; Junaedi, 2013). In the transitional period towards a liberal political system, the state broadcaster may formally transform into a PSB system, but the interest in sport broadcasting varies and depends on numerous factors.

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