Magazine article NotiSur - South American Political and Economic Affairs

Peruvian Demonstrators Take on Trash Television

Magazine article NotiSur - South American Political and Economic Affairs

Peruvian Demonstrators Take on Trash Television

Article excerpt

Peruvian youth activists, journalist groups, and other professional associations have used a pair of street demonstrations to spark a public debate regarding the content and quality of the country's television programming.

Demonstrators held their first "march against trash television" on Feb. 27 in Lima and at least eight other cities. Trash television, in this case, refers to the ultra-gory news programs, variety shows, and reality competition shows that are so prevalent--and popular, according to the ratings--on Peruvian channels.

Topping their list of demands is that broadcasters respect Article 40 of the country's Ley de Radio y Television, which is supposed to protect children from certain kinds of content. "Programming that is transmitted during family hours [6 a.m. to 10 p.m.] must avoid violent, obscene, or any other content that goes against the inherent values of the family, children, and adolescents," the section reads.

Youth organizations and their allies turned their attention to the television issue after successfully opposing a youth labor law that President Ollanta Humala tried to impose last year (NotiSur, Jan. 16, 2015). Activists challenged the initiative, which restricted certain labor rights, with a series of massive street demonstrations that ultimately prompted Congress to repeal the law on Jan. 26 (NotiSur, Feb. 27, 2015)

Organizing through social-media channels, youth groups such as the Coordinadora Nacional de Juventudes Digitales and Foro Nacional de Juventudes de los Partidos Politicos have joined forces with artists and professionals, including journalists and psychologists. On Feb. 27, in Lima, hundreds of people from the various groups made their way to local television stations to protest poor-quality programming.

Organizers say media outlets, besides ignoring Article 40, are also failing in their duty (as established in the Ley de Radio y Television) to promote education and culture. It was with that argument in mind that the movement held a second demonstration, on March 13, to protest against advertisers that finance the television programs in question. The demonstrators specifically targeted the Ministerio de Transportes and the headquarters of the Sociedad Nacional de Anunciantes (the national advertisers association).

"We're calling on these advertisers to stop using their publicity to feed these morbid and frivolous programs that fail to comply with Article 40 of the Ley de Radio y Television and instead spread anti-values that harm the mental integrity of children," Max Obregon of the Colegio de Periodistas del Peru, a professional journalist association, told Diario Uno. "I hope [advertisers] take this into consideration and stop sullying their brands and their images." Obregon went on to say that the movement's goal isn't to censure or shut down television programs but to make sure broadcasters follow the law.

Reports surfaced that same day that Cencosud, a business consortium that includes the Paris department store brand and Metro and Wong supermarket chains, decided to stop running ads during seven high-rated programs. Spokespeople for Cencosud made it clear, nevertheless, that the consortium will continue working with the television stations that air the programs in question. They denied, furthermore, that the decision had anything to do with the demonstrations.

"No interest in social issues"

In his interview with Diario Uno, Obregon said television station owners and managers have sold out, that they went from dealing with the dictatorship of President Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), which controlled their editorial lines, to peddling trash television, which is distorted and without values. …

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