Green media groups air environmental programs

Green media groups air environmental programs
Features News - Thursday, June 05, 2008

A. Junaidi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

"There is no business like entertainment business" is probably not applicable for media groups that concentrate their programs on the environmental campaign.

A recent survey that placed entertainment programs at the top of the ranks did not include DAAI TV and Green Radio FM, two media organizations that have switched their focus to the environment.

Established in 2006 with a local broadcasting permit for Jakarta and Medan, the DAAI TV private television station dedicates almost all of its programs to the environment. The station was initiated by the Buddha Tzu Chi foundation, a Buddhist organization that assists poor people in Jakarta.

"We want to be different from the other nine television stations here," DAAI TV chief executive officer Hong Tjin told The Jakarta Post on Monday at the TV station's studio on the sixth floor of the ITC Mangga Dua office building, in North Jakarta.

Besides trying to be different, Hong said DAAI TV considered environmental issues, such as floods, were critical and needed to be seriously supported and addressed.

The TV station, which uses channel 59 UHF, includes environmental themes, ranging from global warming to garbage recycling, in its programs, which include talk shows, film documentaries and news coverage.

As well as airing environmental programs, DAAI TV is also involved in several environmental activities, such as a mangrove planting program currently underway in Jakarta's coastal areas.

"Can we get profit from airing these environmental programs? Yes, we profit, not materially. We (earn enough to) survive, we cover our costs," Hong said.

He added many big companies, such as the Sinarmas Group, Artha Graha Group and Agung Sedayu Group, aired their advertisements, especially those relating to their corporate social responsibility efforts, on the station.

Separately, Santoso, the director of Green Radio FM (formerly Radio Utan Kayu) said the station changed its focus from straight news to environmental issues.

"We are the only radio station that now focuses on the environment. We face many environmental problems. The environment is getting worse in Jakarta," Santoso told the Post on Tuesday.

The 89.2 FM Green Radio station offers various programs on the environment, such as Green Spotlight, Green Talk (with topics on non-governmental organizations, private firms, technology and profiles), Green Business and Green Indonesia Fiesta.

"We also hold participatory on-air programs, such as a mangrove-planting program, a flood-prevention project and a tree-adoption program," Santoso said, adding that many companies, as well as individuals, supported the station's programs.

The radio station is now organizing a tree adoption program that is calling on members of the public to donate Rp 108,000 per tree, which covers a three-year maintenance period.

The program's volunteer writer, Ayu Utami, said the program aimed to plant some 4,000 tress on a five-hectare plot at Mt. Gede, in Cianjur, West Java.

"Every week, I climb the mountain and find soil erosion there," Ayu said, adding the program had planted 540 trees in one hectare, including 10 trees adopted by her and her partner, photographer Erick.

In a discussion at the Wahid Institute, organized by the Faith Movement Care for Jakarta (Gempita) last week, participants agreed on the importance of involving religious leaders in the environmental campaigns.

"We will bring the results of our discussion to our respective religious leaders," the movement leader, Catholic priest Al. Andang L. Binawan, said.

Sociologist Paulus Wirutomo said the religious leaders could modify their views from saving only human beings to also saving nature.

"We should admit that religion is still the main energy that motivates people. All religions basically carry good teachings toward the environment, but the problem is how to implement them. That's the role of religious leaders ... it's still important," Paulus said during the discussion.

Gempita comprises a group of inter-faith and environmental organizations, including Lantan Bentala, MADIA, Lakpesdam NU, Indonesia Pluralism Institute, Catholic Young Workers Union, PERAGI-FMKI KAJ, PEPULIH, Gropesh, Blue Voice, AREK, PSIK, Rahima, GKI Kemang Pratama Church, Bekasi and Conservation Indonesia.

Hong Tjhin said that values of Buddhism inspired the environmental programs on DAAI TV -- similar to its "sister" station DAAI (read: Tai) TV of Taiwan.

"I think all religion carries the same message on conserving the environment. Buddhism, for example, has a value that the earth is enough for people to earn living but don't be greedy," he said.

Although established in separate legal entities, Hong said DAAI TV and the Buddha Tzu Chi foundation had the same vision and mission; safeguarding humanity and conserving the environment.

"Our name (DAAI) means great love or universal love. We want to spread love, not just for human beings, but also to nature," he said.

Santoso said his radio environmental programs were not inspired by religious values, but rather out of concern for humanity and the environment.

"There are no religious values in the programs. It's just an environmental movement, like Greenpeace," he said.

Ayu, the author of novels Saman and Larung, said she did not believe that religion played an important role in conserving the environment.

"But if we could use religions teachings to help preserve the environment, then why not?" she said during the discussion.

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