Is TV entertainment or... what?

There are too many television and radio stations in the country now, said Information Minister Datuk Paduka Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir.

He said the ministry was discussing with the Energy, Water and Communications Ministry on whether there was a need to stop issuing licences for private television and radio stations.

"If the competition is too stiff, they will tend be more concerned about making money and forget their responsibilities," he added.

Kadir also said that private television stations were not broadcasting enough programmes that promoted family values, peace and unity among Malaysians.

"The stations are more concerned about competing to screen imported films to attract viewers and increase revenue."

It boggles my simple brain. I want to rant about this but I'm not sure where to begin. There is a danger that I will ramble.

How about, "Yes, a private company does try to make money"?

Or "Like you have guidelines as to what are 'family values, peace and unity'?"

Or "No s*** Sherlock - imported films are attracting viewers and increasing revenue"?

It isn't even necessarily true that Malaysians are obsessed with foreign programming. According to the ratings:

Maybe what annoys me is this: Television in Malaysia is already regulated. The Government decides to whom and when licenses will be issued. These presumably come with conditions, along with the right to revoke licenses if these conditions are not met or broken. We already have censorship boards. And all it takes to close down an entire production is a single letter of complaint in a newspaper.

I believe that "their responsibility" isn't specifically to safeguard the morality of Malaysians. I believe their primary responsibility is to make a profit. It is assumed that they will not make a profit if whatever they air isn't watched. I don't want TV companies determining what I should be able to watch. I decide what I want to watch.

There is no need for a single politician to supplant both legislative frameworks and market forces or, more importantly, my personal judgement.

Worse, there is a danger that a threat with non-specific triggers makes people less likely to take risks. What exactly are programmes that promote "family values, peace and unity"?

I like greater competition. Competition means that companies try harder to out-do one another and should result in higher quality shows and hopefully, more innovation. Of course, there is the problem of lowest common denominator (think "midget wrestlers") but it's clear that there will be no pressure to improve without competition. The reward for this is greater profits.

Yet, drawing boundaries as to what can or cannot be shown limits the amount of innovation possible.

Rant over, I guess.


posted on Thursday, June 24, 2004 - permalink
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