Do We Watch More Violent?

‘Do we watch more violent?’

This question went up in my seminar class today. Prof. Raymond Boyle, the seminar instructor, asked this question in regards to how the audience shifted their behaviour on watching traditional TV. In the UK context, says Professor Boyle, television depicted less violence than 20 or 30 years ago. Partly because the role of public service broadcaster such as BBC and Channel 4 that applying high standard of broadcasting, including broadcasting content with less violence or gore scene.

‘How about in your country?’, asked Prof. Boyle to seminar participants.

I answered his question by explaining that in Indonesia, pornographic content is got more public awareness than violent content. For example, recently, ministry of communication plans to ban social media site Tumblr because it contains ‘harmful’ blog contents including pornographic content.


Other seminar participant answered the question. She is from China. In China, there’s no such ‘unhealthy’ content broadcast on television. ‘The government has a strict censorship. So if you want to watch un-cut content, just go online’, she explains.

At certain extent, media regulation in Indonesia will be replicated Chinese. Indonesian government has been obliging Internet Service Provider to filter pornographic contents. Thus, the citizen cannot access Vimeo and some websites, which provide imported and uncensored film content. Even Netflix, cannot running their business in Indonesia. I wonder when the government will ban YouTube as well.

Back to violent content. On January the 29th, Head of Channels on STV Bobby Hain, spoke to us on Media Management guest lecture session at University of Glasgow. In the middle of his presentation about history and regulation of media industry, Mr. Bobby show us a piece of film scene. It is taken from an opening scene of drama. Two men were seriously fighting near the railway until suddenly one of them pushed away to railway and hit by a train. There was literally not much of blood. But surprisingly, this scene was  banned from censorship.

I remembered the whole class were chuckled, cannot hardly believe this ‘light violence’ scene was banned from broadcast. ‘well, this explains the high standard of TV censorship in this country’, I thought at that time.

In Indonesia, as a personal, I though there’s so many rude scene in TV program especially on soap drama (Indonesian term is Sinetron). Sinetron is always grant a huge ratings made TV stations competing on the race of Nielsen’s ratings and share by acquiring some titles regularly and broadcast them on prime time. Unfortunately, Sinetron content is relatively not safe for children.

There is an actual evidence on how violent content is harmful, especially for children. On April 2015, a primary school student in Pekanbaru, Indonesia, died after being beaten by his classmates. His classmates, replicated the fighting scene on 7 Manusia Harimau, one of the Sinetron titles broadcasting on prime time.

Indonesian watchdog for television content Remotivi has been receiving complaints from audience related to violent content, particularly in Sinetron. On Januari 2016, Rapotivi (part of Remotivi) received 18 complaints of violent content, which 75% is from Sinetron. In 2015, Rapotivi passed on 27 complaints to Komisi Penyiaran Indonesia (Indonesian Broadcasting Commision). 17 of 27 complaints were regard to violent scene on Sinetron.

It is still needed further research, but I personally the small number of complaints on violence content could represent that violent content is not really put on serious concern among Indonesian. It could also be the sign that perhaps audiences are aware, but not yet rise up their complaint to the specific body such as Remotivi. Because apparently, ‘A recent Roy Morgan poll shows that television is the most popular medium for Indonesian audiences with 99 per cent having watched ‘any television station in the past 7 days’.


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