A show like “Wil Time Bigtime” appeals to kids because it gives money to the poor.
“Children said they liked the idea of helping the less fortunate,” said Frank G. Rivera, executive director of the National Council for Children’s Television or NCCT, which hosted the “Bata Ako, May Tinig Ako” forum held recently at the Department of Education complex in Pasig City.
The event was attended by 20 children ages 9 to 16 and aimed to “flesh out important thoughts of kids about the media,” Rivera told Inquirer Entertainment.
During the forum, the children were given placards bearing the thumbs-up sign for “like” and the thumbs-down sign for “dislike.” They were asked to rate TV programs by raising their like or dislike placards.
Favored were “Tropang Potchi,” an educational program on GMA 7; “Budoy,” a drama series about a mentally challenged boy on ABS-CBN; “Junior Masterchef” and “Spoon,” both cooking shows on ABS-CBN and Net 25, respectively; “TV Patrol,” a news program on ABS-CBN; “Failon Ngayon” a weekly news magazine show on ABS-CBN; and “Wil Time Bigtime” on TV 5.
Understanding the issues
“The children admitted that while they didn’t really understand most of what was discussed in new programs, they understood their importance,” explained Rivera. Most kids disliked the child-oriented program “Goin’ Bulilit” on ABS-CBN. The kids said they didn’t understand why child actors had to play adults in the show.
The children also made recommendations during the event. “They wanted to see educational shows made more entertaining, and entertaining shows made more substantial and educational,” said Rivera. “Also more animated programs that talk about the Filipino child and our culture.”
No to violence
The children decried the violence to children on TV. “They didn’t like to see children being slapped, punched, or bullied,” Rivera added. “They wanted more shows on nationalism, Filipino culture and tradition, and the Filipinos’ love for God and the environment.”
Rivera said kids also wanted more positive stories and less bad news in local news programs.
“The children we invited were those who had given us the most interesting ideas in past NCCT workshops,” said Rivera. “They came from as far north as Baler in Aurora, to Tagum and Samal, both in Davao del Norte in the south.”
Rivera recalled a child telling him that “there seem to be only three major problems in the country. First is how to straighten curly hair and get rid of dandruff. Second, how to get whiter skin. Third, how to make your laundry smell clean and fresh.”
“Obviously,” Rivera pointed out, “these were ideas that the child had gotten from TV. He’s bombarded by product endorsements day in and day out.”
Rivera advised kids to be more discerning of what they see on TV.
“I gave them these guidelines: First, a program should be entertaining. Second, it should be informative and truthful. Lastly, the information you get from the program should be useful to you. I made them rate TV shows based on these criteria and got really interesting feedback.”
Improving kids’ TV shows
The NCCT, an agency under the DepEd, was created to promote and encourage the production and broadcast of programs that will develop the Filipino child’s critical thinking and communication skills, moral values, and strong sense of national identity. It insists that children deserve to be heard because their opinions are essential and relevant.
The “Bata Ako, May Tinig Ako” forum was also attended by NCCT chair Mag Cruz Hatol, child psychologist and NCCT council member Dr. Ma. Lourdes Carandang, and representatives from the broadcasting networks, the academe, and child-focused non-government organizations.
The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) upon the NCCT’s recommendation, recently announced that it would give incentives to child-focused programs to encourage more producers to create similar shows.
The MTRCB has decided to waive the preview fees of “Batibot” (TV 5), “Tropang Potchi” (GMA 7), “Got It” (ABS-CBN) and “KNC Show” (UNTV) for a year starting next month.
Photos by Alanah Torralba