Indonesia’s Superstation

In 1970, billboard adman Ted Turner sunk his stock into a nearly defunct local television station in Atlanta, Georgia. His advisors cried doom and gloom, but Turner saw stations on America’s lonely UHF band as undervalued gold mines. Before long he bought another. Turner banked on programming that was hard to find on America’s monolithic networks — classic reruns and a variety of sports. And he used his 15% billboard vacancy to freely advertise his new venture. Then, in 1976, leveraging new laws and technology, he expanded his reach via satellite to four cable providers across the US. Growing his audience by a mere 24,000 households, Turner launched the world’s first independent “superstation”. “I was cable before cable was cool.” -Ted Turner Others would follow Turner’s lead, but they were caught in a game of catch-up. By 1981-82, the Turner Broadcasting System was raking in half of the cable industry’s advertising revenue — more than $250 million in those two years. Even America’s Big Three networks — ABC, CBS and NBC — were struggling to recreate the Turner magic. Further investments in time-tested programming and network launches (including CNN, the first 24-hour news network) delivered $1 billion in media sales in 1994. A merger with Time-Warner, valued at $8.5 billion, yielded the world’s largest media organization, in 1996. And so goes the 26-year rags-to-riches epic that is the Turner media empire. Driving revenue in that machine for over 16 years was John Barbera, who departed as President of Turner Broadcasting Sales in 1994. In 2009, Barbera turned his attention to Indonesia, where he sees some of the same untapped potential that Turner saw in the US so many years ago. When Barbera teamed up with producer Joe Yaggi of Indonesia’s Jungle Run Productions, Bumi Hijau TV was born. Today the Bumi Hijau network beams its branded content to 50 local and 2 cable stations throughout Indonesia. In turn, a hodge-podge of advertising slots from all across the country are consolidated for fast-tracked, far-reaching media sales. Whereas Indonesia’s national broadcasters are Jakarta-centric to a fault, Bumi Hijau speaks to another 40 major cities, and 220 million viewers, beyond the media-saturated capital. Programming to date focuses on hand-picked international offerings, localized in-house for premier runs in Indonesia. The roster is unique, with high production values, offering relief from the cheap soap operas and variety shows that flood the Indonesian dials. And the global context, stressing sustainability and social good in a “channel-next-door” package, make an ideal home for today’s multinational, “go glocal” brands. On the whiteboard, the founders plot interactive transmedia and alternate reality games. Viewers will carry out real-world missions, geared to change the world in fun but profound ways, and win prizes based on their video reports. Also on the books are events to spur “Web 2.0″ thinking (hackathons, innovation drives, etc.), to tackle Indonesia’s greatest challenges. Linked to Ted Turner’s high-profile Social Good Summit, the events will deliver deep and meaningful public engagement for a wide range of sponsors. Are we launching an Indonesian superstation? Ted Turner credits his success to being “the right man at the right time in the right place”. Here at Bumi Hijau, we work our butts off to execute the right plan at the right time in the right place…
  • new laws promote local tv stations
  • time on local stations has been inaccessible and undervalued
  • fertile niches exist for high value, low cost syndicated programming
  • new technologies (social media & mobile are Turner’s satellites & cable)
  • cross-promotional benefits (tv time for events are Turner’s billboards for tv)
  • competitive entertainment (reality games are Turner’s sports)
  • economic growth (Indonesia’s emerging market is Turner’s America in the 80′s)
So if you, like like Ted Turner, are inspired to “change the world with ideas, not bombs,” there’s no time to waste. Join Bumi Hijau on the ground floor of the next media revolution!

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About the Author

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Djuna is C.O.D. (Connector of Dots) at Bumi Hijau TV and Jungle Run Productions. Native to San Francisco and calling Indonesia home since 1998, Djuna shoots stills, catches sound, wrangles film crews, builds web sites, writes, and, in her spare time, puts poachers to work as ecotourism guides. Her best Scrabble play is "quetzals" - all 7 tiles on 2 triple words!