From Small Screen to Big Screen

Fresh from adding Indosiar to his group, Eddy Kusnadi Sariaatmadja’s next challenge is to branch into the movie business.

Eddy Sariaatmadja.  © Ahmad Zamroni

Eddy Kusnadi Sariaatmadja can’t wait to show his latest business: making full-length movies. During an interview in his office, he whips out his laptop and press a button. There, on screen are rough cuts from the “The Philosopher”. He’s making a big splash with a co-production of a Hollywood-level movie, The Philosophers, starring such major names as Bonnie Wright (better known as Ginny Weasley from the Harry Potter series), Rhys Wakefield (who is best known for his role in James Cameron’s Sanctum), and Indonesian actress Cinta Laura Kiehl. The movie was shot over four months in Jakarta and other locations such as Belitung and Prambanan near Yogyakarta.  Surya Citra Televisi (SCTV) is the local partner while the Hollywood partner is An Olive Branch Production.Now the movie is undergoing editing and is expected to be on screens in July 2012. “I want the world to see more of Indonesian movies,” he says.

Now having three TV stations, Eddy wants to go to the big screen.It’s totally different with what PT Elang Mahkota Teknologi (Emtek) has done before, although SCTV has made some films for television. Producer George Zakk has been quoted that Eddy’s lobbying was a major reason for the movie to be shot here, traveling to the U.S. and Canada at least six times to persuade Zakk to shoot with SCTV in Indonesia. As part of that process, Eddy deliberately brought some of the crew directly from Hollywood to transfer knowledge to his movie team of around 300 people. “It is faster rather than sending people to the U.S. learning film in a class. My team was involved directly in the production process, they learned to be disciplined and also to become creative by making props to support the setting,” he explains.

With the purchase of Indosiar in July, Eddy has done a transformational deal that will help cement his company Emtek as a powerhouse in media. Without the Rp 1.6 trillion deal, Eddy feared Emtek might have faced dire straits. “If we didn’t do it, maybe we would have been finished,” says Eddy, president commissioner of Emtek and 17%direct owner. The threat? Rising power of the two media groups, billionaire Chairul Tanjung’s Para Group’s two stations Trans TV and Trans 7 and fellow media tycoon Hary Tanoesoedibjo’s PT Media Nusantara Citra with operates PT Rajawali Citra Televisi (RCTI), PT Multimedia Nusantara Citra Televisi (MNC) TV, and Global TV.

With Indosiar, however, Emtek’s future looks much brighter. Now Eddy controls three television stations: SCTV—one of the national television stations—through PT Surya Citra Media, the O Channel—a local television station in Jakarta—through PT Omni Intivision, and now a 85% share of PT Indosiar Karya Media, the parent company of Indosiar. Emtek acquired Indosiar through PT Prima Visualindo, a company owned by billionaire tycoon Anthoni Salim. The company first made an offer in May. The sale by Anthoni to Eddy was one between friends and the two hold shares in each other businesses, with Anthoni holding a 8.9% stake in Emtek while Eddy owns a roughly 5% stake in the Singapore-listed Indofood Agri Resources Ltd. (owned by the Salim group).

According to Nielsen, in the first half of the year SCTV viewers in the 10 biggest cities in Indonesia comprised an average of 1.1 million people per day, or 2.2% from the total TV population of 52 million. While Indosiar reaches 801,000 viewers per day or 1.5% of total, and O Channel grabs 12,000 viewers in Jakarta only. Arief Wana, the chief financial officer of Emtek, says SCTV and Indosiar have distinct market segments so they will not compete with each other. The Nielsen survey shows SCTV viewers are mostly women ranging from 20 to 39 years old while Indosiar audience is both younger (10-14) and older (above 40). Arief previously worked as analyst in Credit Suisse. After working together in various social projects, Eddy ask him to join Emtek.

Eddy Sariaatmadja.  © Ahmad Zamroni

Eddy, 58, is the number three of six siblings. With his father being a successful banker in the Chase Manhattan Bank in Jakarta, Eddy was able to study at the University of New South Wales, where he earned a master in Engineering Science in 1980. One of his focus during master program was water reservation development. In early 1980s, he established a construction company specializing in roads, and industrial and a key clients was PT Citra Garden City, the first residential complex in the country build by billionaire Ciputra. “While I was working there, I had a feeling that the [contractor] job was not meant for me. Then, I decided to focus on the tech industry,” he says.  Budiarsa Sastrawinata, managing director Ciputra Group and Ciputra’s son in law who was led the Citra Garden project, recalls Eddy as a hard worker: “He was committed with the road project back then. I believe he has the same commitment in everything that he does.”

To follow his dream, Eddy started the business in 1983 with PT Elang Mahkota Komputer, as the sole distributor for Compaq computers and providing various computer services, which later became Emtek. In November 2001, Eddy entered the TV business by acquiring SCTV, a local TV station started in Surabaya (now based in Jakarta). Soon it gained the license to air nationally. The station was famous for its news presenters and news programs such as Liputan 6, which led the company to start the news portal Nowadays, SCTV known is for its television miniseries and made-for-TV films. To meet inhouse demand, it launched PT Screenplay Produksi, a production house in October 2010.

For growth, he is planning to also concentrate on existing platforms such as revitalized news website. “For our online business, the backbone is ready. We see potential opportunity in there,” says Arief. And planned move is the launch this year of MAC, a pay TV service covering the Jabodetabek area under PT Mediatama Anugrah Citra.

All the hard work appears to be paying off. Emtek’s revenues last year rose 19% to Rp 3.4 trillion and due to aggressive cost control, net profit grew almost three-fold to Rp 429 billion. Eddy says he got much helpful advice on running a media company from his friend Chairul Tanjung. Emtek shares price closed Rp 3,350 in December 1. The shares are up 225% for the 12 months to early December, giving Emtek a market value of Rp 13.97 trillion and making Eddy’s 17.4% stake worth at least Rp 2.4 trillion. [While through PT Adikarsa Sarana, he and family own 27.92% and could worth Rp 3.9 trillion].

Eddy says his role model is Walt Disney, who created wholesome family entertainment. SCTV is known for screening religious sinetrons during prime time and made-for-TV movies. “I want people to find peace of mind after a long day at work when they turn on the TV. I want people to be optimistic. If you look at Walt Disney, all he thought about is how to make people happy. That’s the philosophy I want to espouse,” says Eddy.


Eddy is also known as a generous man, supporting the printing of religious texts such as the Koran and the Bible for the needy, as well as school textbooks. He is also active in other charities. His SCTV funds the Pundi Amal SCTV, which conducts philanthropy in the areas of education, health, environment and disaster relief. SCTV also funds scholarships for students to attend university.

* This story appears in October 2011 issue of Forbes Indonesia magazine. This one has been through changes, especially in the intro part, first paragraph. The grey highlight is additional info.


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