NEWS

Greek TV fraught with gossip and bad taste

Though violence is not lacking on Greek television, children are probably less threatened by it than by TV’s widespread worthlessness, bad taste and flamboyant consumerism. Transvestites embroiled in spats and shrill quarrels on lunchtime gossip programs typify the cultural deficit. Images of violence are to be found on the news (e.g. the Chechen raid on the Moscow Theater with pictures of the dead repeatedly shown) but the warning that «children might find these scenes disturbing» is seldom heard. No macabre scenes were shown during the recent earthquake in Italy in which a school collapsed. But recently, an accident during a car race resulted in the dismemberment of a man. This scene was shown many times – without any warning. As for scenes of violence in children’s programs, there is a noticeable lack of productions made especially for children. Apart from state television ERT and private channel Alpha, the remaining channels have opted for cartoons which contain scenes of violence, especially the Japanese ones (e.g. «Digimon,» «Dragonball»). Cheaper to make, cartoons are distributed worldwide and reap huge profits from spinoffs such as video games, magazines and cards. The occasional ban – as in Turkey, where «Pokemon» was held responsible for the death of a child – is regarded as a Third World reaction. Given the cultural deficit, the lack of parental control and consumer organizations, a law that would push scenes of violence to after 10.30 p.m. is insufficient. A ban on toy commercials between 7 and 10 p.m. was violated by toy shop owners and manufacturers who exploited loopholes, claiming they were advertising the shops and not the toys. An educational campaign is needed to demythologize the mass media, especially through analysis of the messages (even with lessons at school). A recent decision by the National Council of Radio and Television (ESR) shifted the «Bar» and «Big Brother» TV reality shows to later slots in order to protect children. But program grading is decided by shadowy committees which undermine a system that would educate younger viewers. The institutional framework has to be clarified – ESR is drawing up a code for entertainment broadcasts which is awaited with interest. Besides codes of better behavior, however, what is needed are codes for creativity.