From email@example.com Fri Dec 22 11:46:57 2000
Copyright 2000 InterPress Service, all rights reserved.
Violence in Children's Programmes Worrying
By Richel Dursin, IPS, 19 dec 2000
JAKARTA, Dec 19 (IPS) - Violence in Japanese animated cartoons, which are popular among Indonesian children, is beginning to worry child welfare authorities, who say that television programmes intended for kids should be regulated.
Many of these foreign shows, dubbed in the local language, are not appropriate for children, who are glued to television for hours each day without supervision by adults, they add.
Over 52 percent of the so-called children's programmes contain violent and "anti-social" scenes, including fistfights and swordplay, according to a survey by the non-governmental Indonesian Child Welfare Foundation (YKAI).
"My favourite TV programme is Doraemon," says six-year-old Adiel Pratapa, who, like many others his age, wakes up early every Sunday to catch the all-time hit cartoon that airs at eight in the morning.
"I always watch Kobo Chan," adds eight-year-old Audrey. Kobo Chan, also a Japanese cartoon, is shown on TV at seven in the morning.
"Children's programmes are not always children's programmes," says Ade Armando, communications lecturer at the state-run University of Indonesia and director of the non-governmental Family-Friendly Media, known in Indonesia as 'Media Ramah Keluarga' (MARKA).
He cited the high-rating local programme, 'Anak Ajaib' which in English means 'Wonder Child'. "In one instance, Joshua, the star of the programme, inserted his fingers in the electric plug. What if some children would imitate that?" he said.
One time MARKA received a complaint from a mother who was disturbed that her son did what he saw on a wrestling match on television.
Concerned groups want the government to regulate these television shows to ensure that only those which are suitable for children are aired. This has become even more pressing following results of a survey which show that children spend long hours watching television.
"Children in Indonesia spend a lot of time watching TV," says Guntarto, communications head of YKAI, which has called on TV stations here to be more selective in their programmes.
Results of a recent research by YKAI show that Indonesian children are heavy viewers of television, glued to the screen more than 26 hours a week, or nearly four hours a day. On Sundays, the children watch TV more than seven hours.
The YKAI study says children love to imitate actions they watch on TV such as hitting, punching, and cursing.
Television seems to be the favourite pastime in Indonesia, where more than 70 percent of the population watch TV, according to official statistics.
"Indonesians, including the children, love to watch TV. The TV is available even in remote areas," observes Abdullah Cholil, executive secretary to State Minister for Women's Empowerment.
However, not all programmes children watch are right for them, he said, lamenting that local TV stations allocate only a fraction (4.8 to 11.7 percent) of their airtime to children's programmes.
"We have no children's TV act. So, there is no obligation for the TV stations to provide children with programmes that are suited for them," says Armando.
Apart from the Japanese cartoons, Indonesian children also love to watch soap operas from Latin America.
Activists also rue the fact that shows for adult viewing are shown during daytime when children are around to watch TV.
"During the peak hours, when many children watch, the TV stations are filled with adult programmes which contain a lot of sex, nudity, violent scenes and other scenes which are not apt for them," says Guntarto, who like many Indonesians uses only one name.
"A lot of TV programmes being watched by children from morning to evening are threatening to family values," Armando says.
"The main concern of the TV stations is how to get the highest rating and the easiest way is to provide popular programmes which are low in quality," he adds.
With the abolition of the ministry of information by President Abdurrahman Wahid in October last year when he assumed power, there is no more government body where activists can file complaints against TV programmes which they deem inappropriate.
During the time of former president Suharto, activists took their complaints to the information ministry, which in turn talked to the concerned TV stations.
"Now that we no longer have the ministry of information, the TV industry feels it doesn't have any pressure from government. So, the TV stations are much freer now," Armando says.
At present, there are seven TV stations in Indonesia showing limited programmes for children and more TV stations are scheduled to hit the air.
"Most of the limited programmes for children are of poor quality and do not contain clear educational messages," Guntarto says.
"Basically, programmes produced in our country are very poor in quality and taste. The production is yet becoming a real industry," says Ishadi Soetopo Kartosapoetro, president of new television station PT Televisi Transformasi Indonesia (Trans TV), which is scheduled to hit the air in July next year.
Most local stations feature programmes, which children interviewed by YKAI, say are frightening and which sometimes give them nightmares.
Though there was once a ministry of information, there was no government policy regulating the content of television shows in the past 10 years in Indonesia.
"The lack of policy supported by law enforcement has made the Indonesian TV industry similar to a jungle, where the more powerful party dominates the less powerful one," Guntarto says.
[c] 2000, InterPress Third World News Agency (IPS)
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