With Cerdas Mencerahkan (smart, enlightening) as a tagline, Muhammadiyah's TvMu channel is broadcasting daily from 5am to 9am since its November launch.
"We believe in advancing Islam, in keeping with the era and progress, and we want to enlighten the public through various media so that people will have greater understanding about the religion," Dadang Kahmad , Muhammadiyah chairman in charge of television, told Khabar Southeast Asia. He added the channel eventually plans to broadcast 24 hours per day. "Through satellite and online TV streaming," he said, "we are accessible to a wider audience, even to those living in remote areas. But we plan to go digital by 2017."
The channel is accessible on Telkom 1 satellite and can be streamed worldwide at useetv.com. The satellite covers Indonesia, Southeast Asia, Papua New Guinea and some parts of India, China and Australia, said Telkom Indonesia spokesman Pujo Pramono.
Dadang said the channel's establishment follows a 2005 Muhammadiyah national assembly directive. "In 2010, we established a community television channel in Yogyakarta, but there were still recommendations to go nationwide," he said.
News and feature programming
TvMu features educational, cultural, women's studies and religious content, along with 30-minute news programmes and interviews with noted religious figures.
"We have our own newsroom to run the news programme, while we outsource the feature programmes to a content provider that develops them based on our ideas," Dadang said, confident the station's thousands of national relay sites create a wide coverage area.
"We have 540 hospitals, 180 universities, and 14,000 schools, and they are all obliged to relay our broadcasts, not to mention individual viewings by our members."
Zainal Abidin Petir, co-ordinator of programming content at Central Java Regional Broadcasting Commission (KPID), welcomed the Islamic channel.
"We fully support the idea, especially since it has specific content with highly educational values," he told Khabar.
Zainal said it could gain a wider audience from other religions if programmes are packaged in a populist manner providing educational and useful insight for all believers.
"We don't want religious programs that only talk about people going to hell or heaven," Zainal said. "We need programmes that empower and enlighten the viewers.
"After all, Islam is "rahmatan lil alamin" (a blessing for the whole world), and we can share this with other believers through television programmes well-packaged with direct relevance to people's daily lives."