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Asian TV veteran slams 'degrading Western formats'

Respected Asian television veteran Robert Chua has slammed formats like Weakest Link and Fear Factor as "degrading", "unhealthy" and "unacceptable in any modern society".

In an interview appearing in April's Channel 21, the celebrated exec, who has spent 40 years in the Asian television business and co-founded CETV, revealed his unease with the "invasion" of certain Western formats into Asia.

The spread of what he termed 'degratainment television' - ie entertainment based on degrading people - was unhealthy, said Chua: "It threatens to unravel the many years of progress the industry has made in entertaining, informing and educating viewers."

He added that several formats recently sold into Asia "attack people's dignity and encourage the audience to enjoy others' pain and discomfort."

Chua singled out the BBC gameshow The Weakest Link for particular criticism as "making a spectacle of negative emotions including aggression, rudeness and a desire to humiliate." The Thai version of the show is currently airing on TV3 and is causing uproar among local regulators and viewers.

Other formats Chua pointed to were The Chair, The Chamber, Fear Factor and The Jerry Springer Show.

He added that the blame for the invasion of degradation phenomena into Asia lay with local broadcasters' hunger for ratings, as well as with "foreign programme creators".

He even likened the spread of such formats to the Opium Wars of the 19th century, when imperial Britain enforced the sale of the drug into mainland China.

Ed Waller
25 Mar 2002
© C21 Media 2002

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