Tue, 16 Aug 1994

Cable operator optimistic about Indonesian market

JAKARTA (JP): Indovision, the first cable television operator to handle leading U.S. networks, is optimistic that it will be able to enlist 100,000 customers throughout the country within two years.

The Jakarta-based Indovision's service, which started up two months ago, promises to bring "world class television programs" and "the information revolution" to its Indonesian viewers, its executives said in a press conference yesterday.

Through the new pay TV service, customers will be able to enjoy programs from Home Box Office (HBO) for entertainment films, The Discovery Channel for documentary and science,CNN International for world news and ESPN for sports.

Some of the channels like CNN can still be viewed by people who own dish antennas. However, beginning in October, these channels will scramble their signals and then can only be received using specially provided decoders.

Indonesia already has one state owned television station, TVRI, and four commercial private stations, RCTI, SCTV TPI and AN-TV.

The Direct to Home Television (DTH-TV) Indonesia vision, which receives broadcasts directly from the Palapa satellite and does not use relay stations, is owned by PT Amcol Graha and PT Matahari Lintas Cakrawala (Malicak).

Jack Porray of Malicak said his company had obtained a license to collect subscription fees from hotels for CNN and ESPN in 1991. Malicak has now been licensed to provide the satellite broadcasting services to everyone in Indonesia in addition to the hotels.

Porray said programs from HBO, the largest premium cable program service in the U.S., are passed through censorship in its facility in Singapore which compiles the materials to be seen in Indonesia.

PT Amcol Graha, the local, sole distributor of Sony products, is the distributor of the Canadian-made integrated receiver decoders needed to receive programs from the four programmers.

With a decoder costing Rp 4,350,000 (about US$2,015) exclusive of value added tax, and an annual subscription fee of $410, the new TV service's prime targets will be major companies and wealthy families.

"One of the reasons they (decoders) are expensive is that you can be assured that they will not show up in Glodok at a cheaper price. The security of the encryption is very strong," Porray said.

Glodok is one of Jakarta's largest and oldest shopping centers where original and pirated electronic equipment is on sale at lower prices.

Indovision initially targeted 25,000 customers this year but due to the delay in the project, it reduced this year's target to 10,000. (pan)