Sunday, March 30, 2014

MNC says Jokowi ad ‘no smear’

A representative of media conglomerate, the MNC Group, claimed on Saturday that a political ad attacking presidential candidate Joko “Jokowi” Widodo that aired on its television stations was not a smear campaign.

The ad was broadcast on Global TV, MNC TV and RCTI, all belonging to MNC, which is owned by media mogul and Hanura Party vice presidential nominee Hary Tanoesoedibjo.

Titled “Kutagih Janjimu” (I Demand that You Fulfill Your Promise), the ad shows footage of Jokowi telling his supporters while campaigning during the 2012 Jakarta gubernatorial race that, if elected, he would complete his term as governor and fix Jakarta in five years.

The Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) deemed the ad to be an “attack” on Jokowi and reprimanded the TV network. The commission said the ad had raised red flags due to the fact that it was a political ad, was clearly not part of a campaign promoting a particular party and because it was unclear who produced and funded the ad.

MNC Group spokesman Arya Mahendra, however, insisted that it did nothing wrong by airing the commercial, claiming it would be ridiculous for the media group to blatantly target certain parties.

“The ad is made by a foundation and we clearly displayed the name [of the foundation] in the ad,” he told The Jakarta Post over the phone. He said the foundation’s name was Yayasan Bina Bangsa.

Arya went on to say that the media group decided to broadcast the ad because it was not a smear campaign. “A smear campaign is not backed by facts. Just because it attacks certain individuals does not mean it is a smear campaign,” he said, adding that his company’s view was that the ad was no different to an everyday product advertisement that was based on facts.

He added, however, that the three TV stations had already withdrawn the ad even before the KPI reprimanded them as they realized it could lead to controversy.

Jokowi, the Jakarta governor whose nomination by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) last month is believed to be game changing, was angered by the ad.

“We are holding discussions regarding the ad. We are also considering taking legal action,” Jokowi said on the sidelines of the campaign trail in Cianjur, West Java, as quoted by on Saturday.

He said his party should take action in response to the ad, which he believed was made to paint a negative image of him, given that the ad was only broadcast on the TV stations owned by Hary, a Hanura politician.

Hanura secretary-general Dossy Iskandar Prasetyo did not return calls or reply to messages from the Post on Saturday.

PDI-P executive Maruarar Sirait said the party would have to study the ad first before making any decision. “What’s clear is that we’d like to have healthy competition,” he told the Post.

The party said it was aware that attacks on Jokowi would build up in the run up to the election, with PDI-P secretary-general Tjahjo Kumolo saying that the party’s rivals, who he declined to identify, had formed a special team to smear the popular governor.

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