Indonesian broadcast network in hot seat for holding election quick count

JAKARTA - A recent plan by lawmakers to summon state-run broadcaster Radio Republic Indonesia (RRI), following its quick-count result that indicated victory for Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in the presidential election, has sparked public concerns over its future.

Excluding the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the National Awakening Party (PKB), the House of Representatives belongs to the Gerindra Party-led coalition that supported Prabowo Subianto, Jokowi's rival, in the July 9 election.

PoliticaWave, a site monitoring political conversations on social media, found that since Monday, netizens had been using hashtag #saveRRI to support the RRI following the House's plan.

As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, PoliticaWave had recorded 49,500 conversations with the #saveRRI hashtag. The RRI's famous motto, "Sekali di udara, tetap di udara", or "Once on air, always on air", has also been a popular keyword in 1,719 conversations.

"The issue [on dissolving the RRI] has been much criticised by netizens, especially on Twitter," said PoliticaWave's Yose Rizal on Tuesday. "It brings back memories of the New Order regime, which often censored the media."

RRI president director Niken Rosalita Widiastuti said the radio station not only conducted quick counts but also conducted exit polls and news feeds to update their listeners.

"Our quick count used objective data from 2,000 polling stations at the district level. We also had 2,000 volunteers from Sabang to Merauke [to help with the count]," she said as quoted by

Niken said that the RRI had also conducted quick counts during the legislative and presidential elections in 2009.

"Our quick count results in 2009 were similar to the real count results. At that time, House Commission I appreciated our work because the results were similar to those of the KPU's," she said as quoted by Antara.

Members of Commission I on information recently revealed their plan to summon the RRI's board of directors following its quick-count result, which put the Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla ticket in the lead with 52.71 per cent of the vote, with rival ticket Prabowo-Hatta Rajasa securing 47.29 per cent.

Despite the fact that the RRI was one of a number of institutions authorised by the General Elections Commission (KPU) to carry out election surveys and quick counts, Commission I head Mahfudz Siddiq said the RRI should not have conducted the quick count. Mahfudz argued that the RRI was not an official pollster and, as a public broadcaster, it should maintain a neutral stance throughout the election.

The Indonesian Association for Public Opinion Surveys (Persepi) is currently auditing the methodology used by seven member pollsters - including the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Cyrus Network and Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC) - in light of the conflicting results.

Five of the pollsters indicated a win for Jokowi, while two others - the Strategic Development and Po- licy Research Center (Puskaptis) and the Indonesia Votes Network (JSI) - announced Prabowo as the winner.

Although it is not yet official, Persepi reportedly found that the CSIS-Cyrus Network and SMRC quick counts - which pointed to a Jokowi victory - were valid.

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