From Paras Indonesia

August, 08 2006 @ 06:42 pm

PAN Gets Reality ‘Sinetron’ Censored, Considers Legal Action
By: Roy Tupai

Not content with convincing television network Trans TV to pull a drama series based on an alleged affair between National Mandate Party (PAN) leader Sutrisno Bachir (49) and celebrity singer Nia Paramitha (29), PAN is now considering legal action over the offending program.

The story stems from late March 2006, when Nia’s husband of nine years, actor and lawyer Gusti Randa (40), filed for divorce, accusing his wife of having an affair with Bachir. Gusti had strong grounds for the adultery claim as he had undergone a vasectomy after the couple’s fourth child was born, but Nia subsequently became pregnant and had an abortion.

Gossip columnists, celebrity sleaze television producers and bloggers seized on the story and pointed out that Nia had often performed at PAN rallies, giving her ample opportunity to get to know the chairman of the Islam-oriented party. Bachir repeatedly denied there had been an affair and his lawyers threatened to sue Gusti for defamation. His lawyers also threatened to sue any media publications for reporting on the “defamatory gossip”.

Nia refused to publicly reveal who had impregnated her. Some tabloids speculated the father might have been another PAN executive, Andy Harun, but he denied there had been a sexual relationship and insisted he remained faithful to his wife. He declined to comment on allegations that he was at South Jakarta’s Pondok Indah Hospital on March 16, around the time that Nia had an abortion there.

Cut to a few months later and Trans TV began broadcasting a new sinetron (electronic cinema or soap opera) reality series titled Selebriti Juga Manusia (Celebrities Are People Too).

Produced by Indika Entertainment, the series aims to “win the hearts of viewers” by presenting the real-life stories behind the shallow “infotainment” reports of celebrity scandals. Broadcast every Sunday at 7pm, the series premiered on June 4.

The series reveals that celebrities are not angels, but are susceptible to normal human mistakes and shortcomings, from which they can eventually learn from and become stronger. Hence the producers hope the real life stories of the celebrities will inspire viewers to also overcome personal obstacles in their lives.

Trouble arose on August 6, with the broadcast of the first of a three-part episode titled ‘Extra-Martial Affair: Politics and the Crime of Gender’, which tackled the marital woes of Nia and Gusti, who played characters based on themselves. The names were slightly changed for legal reasons. Hence there was a character named Mia (played by Nia), her husband Gustaf (played by Gusti) and a philandering senior member of the (fictitious) Moral Principle Party (PAM) named Sutrisno Bahar (not played a prominent politician of a similar name).

At 3.30pm Monday (7/8/06), about 40 members of PAN’s Youth Front, most of them dressed in grey uniforms, showed up at Trans TV’s studios on Jalan Kapten Tendean in Mampang, South Jakarta, to demand the network apologize for the episode and promise not to screen the remaining parts.

They were soon joined by dozens of young men who arrived on motorbikes, while five minibuses delivered about 100 more protesters. The noisy protest quickly looked like a standard “rent-a-mob” affair. The demonstrators displayed a large banner with the words “Revoke the Broadcast License, the Gusti-Nia Show is False”.

Protesters said the show was biased in favor of Nia because it told her version of the alleged marital infidelity.

PAN’s West Jakarta branch chairman Rumilan warned that a bigger demonstration would be staged if Trans TV refused to accept the protesters’ demands.

About 50 police guarded that studio’s main gate, while the protesters spilled onto the road, causing severe traffic congestion.

A delegation of the protesters was later received by Trans TV managing director Ishadi Soetopo Kartosaputro and chief editor Iwan Ahmad Sudirman, who was given the job of issuing an apology.

"The matter was discussed openly. Mr Ishadi confirmed the program will be stopped,” Sudirman said after the meeting, eliciting cheers from the protesters.

He said Trans TV will send an apology to PAN’s central executive board and broadcast the protest and apology on Tuesday morning and afternoon. "We apologize to PAN’s supporters, members and family,” he was quoted as saying by detikcom online news portal.

Seemingly satisfied with the apology and promise, the protesters departed at 6.25pm, thoughtfully leaving their rubbish scattered over the area. Traffic congestion then began to ease.

Legal Action?
PAN’s Jakarta chapter later on Monday said it would pursue legal action against Nia, Gusti and Indika Entertainment because the party was offended by the sinetron.

"We will not remain silent. We will continue with legal efforts because this was insulting,” said Jakarta chapter chairman Andi Anshor.

He declined to specify precisely what legal action the party would be taking, but said it should teach other networks not to broadcast programs that upset people. "With this incident, it is hoped the other television stations will pay more attention to the aspirations of the viewers and the public," he said.

PAN secretary general Zulkifli Hasan on Tuesday said the party’s central board was still studying the sinetron before deciding what action should be taken. "We are still examining it. Later, on Wednesday, we will discuss it. Then we will announce the party's stance,” he said.

Zulkifli said he did not watch the sinetron when it aired but was soon contacted by outraged PAN members. "Many people telephoned me; some of them angry and others asking that legal action be taken.”

He denied the protest staged by PAN’s Youth Front had been endorsed by the party’s central board. “We did not know about that, we were not aware of it. That was their initiative," he said.

Fact Versus Fiction
Commenting on the protest, Gusti said the sinetron was not entirely based on reality and not intended to cause offense.

Indika Entertainment producer Shanker said he was puzzled by the PAN members’ anger because the program was fictitious. "Why associate themselves with the sinetron? We did not insult anyone here,” he was quoted as saying by

He pointed out that although the sinetron was based on Gusti and Nia’s marital crisis, the characters’ names had been altered, while the show’s ending was entirely fictitious.

Shanker also said that any complaints should be directed to Gusti because he had written the sinetron script and sold it to Indika Entertainment. He expressed regret over Trans TV’s decision to cancel the sinetron.

Despite their divorce, Nia and Gusti are still living under the same roof at their house for the sake of giving their children a stable upbringing.

Trans TV began broadcasting in 2001 and is part of banking tycoon Chairul Tanjung’s Para Group (PT Para Inti Investindo). Tanjung is close to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and other political figures.

Trans TV’s best known program has been its comedy series Bajaj Bajuri (about Indonesia’s only obese wisecracking bajaj driver). The network is also known for its titillating late-night viewing fare, with programs such as Komedi Nakal (an unfunny sitcom featuring young women displaying their cleavage, while the show’s name makes a dirty abbreviation), Fenomena (a look at the many seamy sides of Jakarta nightlife, playfully presented by the curvaceous Emma Waroka Hawkins) and Penjaga Pantai (a local comedic version of Baywatch, even worse than the original).

Trans TV’s owner is aiming to expand and last year reportedly tried to acquire rival network Lativi. After that bid failed, Tanjung is now in the process of buying a controlling stake in TV7, which is owned by the Kompas-Gramedia Group.

Broadcasting Commission
The Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) on Tuesday said PAN’s protest against Selebriti Juga Manusia was justified because the sinetron was unethical as it had told only one side of the story of the alleged affair.

"The sinetron was not right, because although it was quite clearly based on a true story, it showed only one version," KPI member Ade Armando was quoted as saying by detikcom.

He said that while the producer claimed the episode was fictitious, viewers were already familiar with the story of the alleged affair, so they might have been misled. "Although this is not journalism, it is still unethical. The producers apparently tried to show their creativity but did not heed the principles of objectivity and balance.”

Armando said that slightly changing the names of the main characters did not mean the program could get away with making insinuations. "Although being obscured, everyone knew what was meant. If it was parody that's all right, but this was not ‘as if’. It was improper because it disregarded the truth.”

He said PAN’s protest should serve as a lesson to all television networks to pay greater attention to presenting balanced programs.

So far, no one has said anything about the whole affair teaching politicians not to dally with celebrities. Former Golkar politician Bambang Trihatmodjo, the middle son of ex-dictator Suharto, was the subject of plenty of media coverage after his ongoing affair with singer Mayangsari resulted in a baby and an attack by his furious wife.

By: Roy Tupai | Category: Society & Culture
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