Wed, 10 Aug 1994

Indonesia needs to build its own cultural industry

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesia needs to build its own cultural industry -- one that promotes local values -- to counter the influx of foreign cultures, a senior official of the Ministry of Education and Culture says.

Director General of Culture Edi Sedyawati told a seminar yesterday that the penetration of foreign cultures is inevitable because of the increasing number of imported foreign television programs being screened by local stations.

The best way to counter this influx is by strengthening the resilience of the national culture and the most effective way of doing that is by building Indonesia's own cultural industry, she said.

She proposed that local television stations be more creative and innovative in developing local programs to balance the influence of foreign ones. "It will be useless if local production houses create things which simply imitate foreign work."

Local televisions should also be more selective in choosing imported programs, she added.

Foreign programs could enhance local cultures, provided they are well supervised, Edi said, stressing that the government, society, and the television stations themselves could exercise the control.

The two-day seminar on cultural industry, organized by the Directorate General on Culture, was opened on Monday by Minister of Education and Culture Wardiman Djojonegoro. In yesterday's session, the discussion focused on the impact of television.

Communication expert Alwi Dahlan, who took part in the discussion, questioned the commitment of local television stations to preserve local culture.

Alwi accused the stations of neglecting their social responsibility.

Citing an example, he said the stations have disparaged the concerns expressed about the impacts of violent films, especially on children.

"If it is shown just once, may be the impact is not serious; But if it is shown repeatedly, I think the effects will be serious, especially on children," he told The Jakarta Post after the seminar.

Quite violent

He suggested that the RCTI's Layar Emas films shown at 8 p.m. every Wednesday night, which are usually quite violent, be screened at a later hour so that children will not watch them.

Welcoming Alwi's critics, Eduard Depari of RCTI suggested that parents be wiser in selecting television programs, especially when their children are around.

He said television programs could hardly be expected to encourage critical thinking among children. Thus, parents' guidance for their children in using television is recommended.

"Critical thinking can be induced through reading, not through watching television. Therefore, television should be used as a complement to the print media," Depari said.

He said if people's reading habits were high enough, there would be no need to worry about the influx of foreign programs. "Unfortunately, the amount of time we spend reading is still relatively low."

Depari said people should not expect too much from private stations because they are a business concern.

"They can take part in building a healthier cultural industry only if they are economically healthy. If they are not healthy, what can we expect from them?" he asked. (rid)