Albion Monitor /News
[Editor's note: As we also reported last year, another group pushing to control Asian airwaves is the Christian Right. A joint venture between Christian Coalition head Pat Robertson, Indonesian investors (as well as prominent Clinton donors) Lippo Group, and a Malaysian real estate company seek to produce a "no sex, no news, no violence" cable TV channel in Chinese.]

Asian TV Network Fights Western Values

by Thalif Deen

New network to counter Western values and lifestyles on TV screens
(IPS) UNITED NATIONS -- An Asian television network specifically directed at youth has been battling for two years to reduce the massive overdose of Western values and lifestyles on TV screens in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

Young Asia Television (YATV), established on Oct. 24, 1995, is delivering alternative programs based on the issues and values promoted around the world by the United Nations. The new network has been so successful in its present operations in six countries that it plans to expand next year to 15 other Asian countries, including Cambodia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Vietnam.

"Several Asian leaders have expressed concern about the strong influence of non-Asian values and lifestyles by foreign satellite networks beaming their signals to the millions in Asia," says Arne Fjortoft, President of YATV.

Asian broadcasts include ads for McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Nike shoes, and Victoria's Secret lingerie
A native of Norway, Fjortoft says that some Asian countries are trying to protect their culture and traditional values by banning the use of satellite dishes. "But with new technologies and an increasing number of direct broadcasting satellites, the pressure from these developments will overrule the legislators because the world is fast becoming a global village," he said.

Fjortoft says that the only way to prevent cultural alienation is to create new networks with value-based alternative programs of a high professional standard.

"The program policy of YATV is to give young people a voice to express their own views and aspirations, and to bring meaningful entertainment, information, and education to a generation which is looking for solutions to the fundamental problems of sustainable development," he said.

YATV's target audience is the young population of Asia, who represent more than half of the continent's 3.0 billion people. Produced by an international team of young Asian professionals whose average age is 22, YATV's programs deal with U.N.-related issues such as human development, environmental protection, drug control, and education.

Headquartered in Malaysia and with production centers in Sri Lanka and other Asian countries, YATV has signed program exchange and cooperation agreements with major local television networks in China, India, the Philippines, Malaysia, and other countries.

The network has been buying air time for its programs and selling commercial space to cover some of its costs. Currently, it has an agreement with India's state-run Doordharshan, which has an audience of more than 400 million viewers. YATV is also negotiating with Central China TV, which has nearly 900 million viewers.

By next year, viewers in more than 15 Asian countries will be able to watch YATV programs through their national network and cable channels.

Nearly 49 percent of YATV's capital is held by private investors, while the majority 51 percent is held by Worldview International Foundation, a non-governmental organization based in Sri Lanka.

YATV says that it deals only with selected international corporations "with undisputed business ethics, coupled with a concern for the environment and social justice."

The fledgling network works in close cooperation with the United Nations and its specialized agencies.

With the spread of globalization, the airwaves of Asian countries are being increasingly invaded by overseas broadcasters, including Cable News Network (CNN), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Sky News, International Television Network (ITN) and Star Television, all of which are owned and run by international conglomerates.

At the same time, Asian markets are also being invaded by such Western transnationals as Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, and Burger King. In the non-food sector, airwaves are being inundated with commercials for Nike shoes, Calvin Klein jeans, and Victoria's Secret lingerie.

"For years, I have been appalled to see much of the fare that is beamed through television channels of both developed and developing countries," says the British-born Arthur C. Clarke, the internationally-renowned science fiction writer who has made Sri Lanka his home for more than three decades.

"I have known and admired Worldview International Foundation for many years and hope that YATV will provide a much-needed counterbalance against the increasing abuse of the television medium by commercial and consumerist interests," Clarke said.

Leticia Shahani, a former high ranking U.N. official and President of the Philippines Senate, says she admires YATV "for spearheading a drive to empower and entertain young Asians with programs based on family values and global concerns."

Fjortoft said, "Television is exploding all over Asia." India, he said, already has 53 channels, and the Philippines has about 70.

According to a survey conducted in Asia, Fjortoft said, some Asian countries get more than 70 percent of their news from television. He says that battling international TV giants is a formidable task. "But then," he adds, "someone has to take them on."

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Albion Monitor October 27, 1997 (

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