Television democratization and the political awareness of voters in Indonesia


This study explores how the democratization of media in Indonesia enhanced the role of television stations in raising voters’ political awareness about the 2014 legislative election. For this qualitative study, we interviewed two media experts and the chief editors of six television stations. We find that there are three general factors negatively affect TV’s role as a free public sphere, namely, production constraints, owners` political interests, and commercial aspects of the television industry. Concentration of ownership and commercialization have increased television’s orientation toward profit, minimizing its educative role, and minimizing its neutrality. However, television still increased voters’ awareness regarding the election technicalities but failed to reflect the visions of the competing candidates. The establishment of innovative community television could be an alternative for commercial TV in Indonesia. However, the performance of community TVs in Indonesia is hindered by the restricted access to frequency spectrum and low financial capabilities.