Tanja Cilia

Freelance Writer

Bum Steer

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Sunday, July 1, 2012 by

Tanja Cilia

The toddler was throw­ing a tantrum on the bus last Thursday, so I lent him my pocket radio. He fiddled with the dials, and that’s how I came across Tifkiriet mill-Imgħoddi on Radju Marija. But unfortunately, this is the last programme in a series of 26, broadcast since last January.

Wasn’t it Al Gore who told us ‘A zebra does not change his spots’?
Unlike the programme with al­most the same name that goes on air at the same time on Radju Malta, presenter Leonard Zerafa did not take phone calls, giving him the opportunity to illustrate the adapted-for-radio works of Guido Lanfranco – recollections, folklore, customs and habits – with the music of Charles Camilleri and other local artistes.

It would be a good idea for the series to be made available on CD both for those who were not aware of it, and as a teaching aid for children. Radju Marija will broadcast a repetition; but the station does not have an audio-on-demand facility.

• I would be the last one to deny listeners their five minutes of fame (though sometimes it seems much longer) which they seek to obtain by calling live programmes. But some of the ones who hog the lines engender the “oh no, it’s him again” syndrome. It’s a pity some presenters will only cut a rambling caller off when it’s obvious they have someone else on the line – and that they allow the same people to call, day in, and day out. And then someone comes up with, “għax bil-Malti dan naqra ħandikap…”, and I shudder.

Wasn’t it Al Gore who told us “A zebra does not change his spots”? So it’s obvious some callers slant their comments to suit their personal agendas. And unfortunately, not all presenters realise this.

Then there are programmes that could do with calls, but do not have any because their time-slot is too short. A case in point is Sehmna fl-Ewropa. Last Monday, the final programme in the series brought toget­her the PN’s Francis Zammit Dimech, the PL’s George Vella and Arnold Cassola for AD. The topic was future EU issues.

The participants had a field day, drifting from the crux of the current financial crises besetting certain nations, the relative pros and cons of economic growth initiatives and austerity measures, funding and bailouts, loans related to the building industry (which inter alia had been conducive to the problems of Spain, Ireland and Greece), and the need to create green, blue, and IT-related jobs, and more.

This programme more than made up for others where guests, who are supposed to be experts in their field, left a lot to be desired.

Incidentally, Norma Saliba will be back on TV from tomorrow. Kudos is the general knowledge mini-documentaries. Geologist Peter Gatt will speak about Malta’s geology at 6.45 p.m. on One; repeats go on air on Fridays at 10.30 p.m.

• There was a time when children were plunked in front of TV sets for Cartoon Hour because parents and carers could be sure this was more or less wholesome entertainment.

That was when there were no seditious plotlines or manga trying to subvert children’s minds. Then things got more serious, and satire was considered to have gone too far – by those who had been targeted.

South Park is well known for taking pot-shots at cultures, religions, and even specific people; and as we all know, some cultures, religions, and even specific people are less tolerant than others. In 2010, Jesse Curtis Morton and Zachary Chesser founded the now-defunct Revolution Muslim website to ‘warn’ South Park’s creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker against indicating, in the 200th and 201st episodes, that it was the Prophet who would be revealed as wearing a bear costume.

A sample of the posts included “We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid… They will probably end up like Theo van Gogh for airing this show”. To incite haters, the site also posted the ad­dresses of the South Park production company offices and of Comedy Central’s New York headquarters.

Van Gogh was shot and stabbed several times, and then had his throat slit, in Amsterdam by Mo­ham­med Bouyeri, wearing the traditional Moroccan djelleba. The murder was in retaliation for the screening of Submission, a short film on Dutch television depicting the objectification of women in Islam.

Eventually, it was revealed that the personage in South Park was actually St Nicholas. But this did not spare Morton from the 12-year pri­son sentence meted out to him for threatening Stone and Parker. Ches­sler received a 25-year sentence.

Just for the record, the aforementioned episodes had been gauchely censored by the Viacom-network Comedy Central. And here it gets more surreal: in July, 2010, the Television Academy decided the censored episodes merited consideration for Outstanding Animated Pro­gramme in the Primetime Emmy Awards. But voters did not see why they should vote for Comedy Central, since it had acted repressively.

• There are some people who think the Maltese word for breastfeeding is rude, so they concoct the Maltese version of the English word. Now it seems even the vernacular for ‘bedroom’ is being considered unsuitable for broadcast.

This is the idea being given by an advert that encourages us to get furniture for the said boudoir, and other rooms, the names of which are given in Maltese.

This is part and parcel of the ridiculous trend that has adverts in Maltese, with the tag-line being given in English.

• It having been World Day for Communications, last Wednesday, the Media Centre hosted a Business Breakfast, the topic of which was ‘Ethics in the media’.

The opportunity was also taken to launch a new mobile telephone application, which enables one to source out the next Mass being celebrated, by proximity to the person who would like to find out.


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Tanja Cilia

Freelance Writer

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