TV Channel Targeting Expatriate Lankans

Dharmasena Rajapakse, Abu Dhabi.

This is good news for over two millions of Sri Lankan work force throughout the world and is a fulfilment of a long felt necessity. The significance of the project and the service incorporated is immense and need not further praise, criticism or explanation. Though a point has to be emphasized; the attention of the Chairman and the Executive Committee of the project is needed, to achieve worldwide respect and honour for their investment, instead of humiliation and disgrace. That is a pledging has to be done, not to telecast Hindi or Indian programmes, day in and day out.

In Sri Lanka, more than 60% of the telecast hours of the State and private channels are filled, devoted or infected by Indian Programmes. The reason behind is, ours being a small country, and having started TV culture just about two decades ago, we have less viewers and producers of TV-materials of our own, which are not enough, to fill up long hours of screening. So, as to compensate the lack of material they fill up the gap with Hindi and Tamil Programmes irrespective of the time or suitability.

At times, all TV stations are screening Hindi and Tamil films and nothing in Singhalese. There are only one or two Singhalese films screened, per week and they too are very old and reruns of many times. Some stations start their telecasting early in the morning with Indian songs with dancing and erotic love scenes in flower gardens and parks which are abundant in Hindi films. They don't want to start the day with something religious or nationalistic or something of moral value, in order to please some minorities, at the expense of our own cultural values; and the closing down for the day too is of similar pattern.

So I suggest the Chairman of the project, Mr. B. A. C. Abeywardana, to avoid Indian Programmes completely, as there are enough channels to view them in this part of the world. The Indians and other Nationals in and around our work places, may ask, "Why your channels are showing Hindi Programmes, don't you have anything of your own?" etc. We do feel much embarrassment, if some foreigners ask these questions at home while they watch our TV programmes.

As, such chances are limited we could dodge them with some blunders. Unfortunately, it is not so in a foreign country, especially in the Middle East where the Indian population exceeds even the nationals of that particular country. In addition to that, there are so many Indian Channels of different languages such as Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Karnataka etc, of twenty four-hour service and they don't relay Hindi Programmes in Malayalam or Tamil channels and vice versa.

So if we start beaming some Hindi songs and dances in our Sri Lankan channel, it is utterly ridiculous and absurd. If we don't have enough stuff to feed our channels for long hours reduce the service to eight or six hours or even to two to three hours per day, without filling up the gaps with rubbish.

There are Japanese and Chinese channels and we never see them telecast any programme in a foreign language, other than some news in English, merely for the sake of other nationals. Japanese channel introduces many documentaries, cultural and educational programmes, exercise, sports and games programmes, culinary and handicraft, cartoons and children's programmes, business matters world wide, among other interesting and worthy titles.

The speciality in these programmes is, that most of them are based on Japanese culture, society and environment shot at Japanese locations, for the entertainment of the Japanese themselves. Why cannot our people learn a lesson out of this and be proud of our own heritage and enjoy in our own way without being puppets of other nations?

In the French channel some times they show documentaries about Sri Lanka; the ancient ruined cities consisting of temples, shrines and pagodas, palaces and citadels, tanks, lakes and irrigation systems, wild life and natural habitat, art and craft etc. which are very interesting and never expected to view through our own TV channels.

The ordinary man likes to see such programmes; they are educational and enjoyable as well. Instead what our TV presents them with is sheer garbage, in the form of films, songs and dances and even advertisements of other languages of another culture throughout the day and night. As a result, the new generation is accustomed to this life style; they think that Hindi songs and dances are our own creations and our own culture. They prefer to listen or sing Hindi songs, rather than our own.

Since the idea of introducing this valuable feat is great and praiseworthy, of this outstanding entrepreneur, it is our duty to honour and appreciate such brave decisions, while cite and suggest any precautions (without any malice) to be taken, in order to make the project a success, for the benefit of both the parties. This is my humble opinion and I think that most of Sri Lankan expatriates agree with me.



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