Peter Frans Gontha (born 4 May 1948 in Semarang, Indonesia) is an Indonesian businessman, commercial television pioneer, and jazz impresario. In 2014 he was appointed Indonesian ambassador to Poland.
Early life and education
Gontha was born in Semarang, Central Java, to Victor Willem ‘Wim’ Gontha and Alice. After attending Jakarta’s Kanisius College, he was educated in the Netherlands. As a young man, he worked for the Holland-America Line cruise company. In 1970, he started work for Shell Benelux Computer Center. Shell provided him with a scholarship to study accounting at the Praehap Institute in the Netherlands. He received his degree in Finance Accounting and Business Administration in 1972.
From 1975 to 1979, Gontha worked for Citibank N.A., where he became assistant vice president. He later became vice president of American Express Bank for Asia. In Indonesia, he was vice president of Bimantara Citra Group, an Indonesian conglomerate founded by former president Suharto’s middle son Bambang Trihatmodjo.
Gontha founded Indonesia’s first commercial television network, Rajawali Citra Televisi Indonesia (RCTI), in 1989 as part of Bimantara Group, and co-founded the country’s second commercial television network, Surya Citra Televisi (SCTV) in 1990, followed by satellite pay TV company Indovision in 1994. In 1996, he purchased a controlling stake in the English-language daily newspaper, The Indonesian Observer. His media empire and ambitions earned him the nickname, “the Rupert Murdoch of Indonesia”. His public profile increased when he began hosting an Indonesian version of The Apprentice in 2005, leading to him being dubbed “the Indonesian Donald Trump”. Gontha, who is known for his baldness, has dismissed the comparison as nonsense, saying he is just a hard worker who looks nothing like Trump.
He was a co-founder of petrochemical firm PT Chandra Asri Indonesia. His other business ventures included Plaza Indonesia Realty (The Grand Hyatt Jakarta), PT Tri Polyta Indonesia, First Media, Bali Intercontinental Resort, P.T. Datakom Asia and P.T. Jaring Data Interaktif.
Gontha is the founder of the annual Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival, which was first held in 2005 and has attracted top jazz acts from around the world. His love of jazz stemmed from his father, who was a trumpeter for a jazz band at Shell oil company in Surabaya, East Java.