Jakarta - Television personalities agreed to disagree on the issue of obscene language in television talk shows during a discussion held by the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) on Thursday.
The commission had called together several well known television figures to discuss whether jokes made by talk show hosts were meant to be humorous or were deliberately suggestive.
Sumita Tobing, a prominent television producer, said that broadcasting was supposed educate people, while entertainer Farhan said that the industry had always faced a dilemma in choosing between moral responsibilities and business challenges.
"We have to have a standard. A producer must have good taste," said Sumita, citing as an example the time she had chosen not to air a close-up shot of a dead body during an evening news program.
"Good taste depends on the maturity and the (experience) of a producer.
"Professionalism in television cannot be obtained instantly. Broadcasting is not meant as a business commodity only," said Sumita, who has been working in the television industry since 1970.
However, Farhan argued that everyone in the industry had commercial interests.
"I might hate one specific actress, but, on the other hand I will invite her on my show because she sells," said Farhan.
He added that the main problem was that the life of television shows depended on their ratings.
KPI chairman Sasa Djuarsa Sendjaja said last month that television stations would do anything to boost program ratings, even if it were at the expense of the quality of the programs themselves.
Farhan said that viewers were the most powerful people in the television industry because the ratings depended on them.
"The audience doesn`t know how many people working in the television industry are affected just by their switching channels," he said.
Sumita acknowledged that ratings were influential on program content, but pointed out that it was possible to avoid lewd content and suggestive elements.
The KPI itself, represented by M. Izzul Muslimin, did not make any firm statement on the lewd language issue, but only said that the problem was that television was meant for public consumption.
Izzul added that parents should take the responsibility for making sure their children did not watch television programs that contained lewd elements.
Communications consultant Inke Maris was the only one who made a clear statement, saying that vulgar jokes on talk shows could not be categorized as pornography.
"The quotes and comments are meant as funny jokes," said Inke, who has worked as a journalist for 30 years.
Source: www.asiamedia.ucla.edu (25 Juni 2007)