Mon, 24 Feb 2003

N. Sumatra administration ready to fund `TVRI'

Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, Medan, North Sumatra

North Sumatra Governor T. Rizal Nurdin said on Saturday that his administration was ready to take over the financing of TVRI's Medan station to ensure that the station would still go on air.

Nurdin said the North Sumatra government had no objection to providing financial assistance for TVRI Medan if the station was no longer receiving financial support from the state budget.

He was commenting on reports that TVRI's Medan station may stop operations on April 1, 2003 due to financial difficulties.

The governor said he did not want TVRI to stop operations only because of operational funds. According to Nurdin, TVRI Medan has to be rescued considering that it is the only asset the province has to promote its policies and economic potential in the region.

"I agree if TVRI Medan is rescued as this is our only asset to make public programs and promote the province's potential here," Nurdin told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

However, he declined to mention the amount of money his administration was willing to commit to finance the operation of TVRI Medan.

Nurdin said he had instructed the head of North Sumatra information and communications office Hakimil Nasution to study the TVRI Medan case, including its monthly expenditure.

TVRI Medan manager Nazief, meanwhile, said officials from the governor's office had started calculating the monthly expenditure of TVRI Medan.

"TVRI Medan needs Rp 400 million a month for its operations," Nazief said.

TVRI Medan has a total of 415 civil servant employees and 70 temporary ones.

Nazief said TVRI Medan had not received funds from TVRI Jakarta for two months, forcing it to finance its operations with the remainder of its advertising revenue worth Rp 1.5 billion collected in 2002.

As of February, TVRI Medan had only Rp 600 million in its coffers, allowing it to stay afloat only until March.

Nazief also said that due to financial constraints, TVRI Medan had reduced the operations of four transmissions -- Natal, Sipirok, Batangtoru, and Lahewa -- by one hour, while the Telukdalam transmission in Nias regency has ceased to operate as it could not afford to buy spare parts.