MEDIAFORUM Archive 1995

Media Ownership: Are we on the Wrong Track?
by Fr. Mar Alingasa, SVD (4/1995)

Fr. Mar Alingasa of the 'Word Broadcasting Corporation', a Catholic radio station in the Philippines, shares here observations made on other continents. Church-owned radio and television stations have lower audience ratings, receive less advertising and therefore less revenue than secular and commercial media. Under these circumstances, the only alternative is to offer competitive programming which is creative and imaginative. This requires a well-trained and motivated team and to achieve this, sufficient financial resources. The Word Broadcasting Corporation has developed strategies to enable it to rise to this challenge: it produces and sells programmes in co-operation with several other stations, while continuing its unflagging efforts to increase its own audience. Despite this, given the financial muscle of the commercial networks and the relative weakness of Catholic radio stations, the author asks whether the Church's strategy of acquiring communication media is a dead-end.

One Gender - Different Realities: Breaking limiting Women-Images in Media
by Karen Watermann (4/1995)

During the UNDA-OCIC meeting in Delhi on Asian Cinema and Women, one point of discussion was how stereotyped images of women transformed by media and specifically in the visual medium film, contribute to perpetuate a limited and also false perception of women's reality and life context. Interesting is that, in several statements such as "Asian women don't want or need the same deliberations as Western women" or "Western women in the context of consumerism culture are utilised as mere sex objects", it became clear that there is a demand for different portrayals of women in the South and women in the West. There is not one common applicable global "women-image".

Report: UNDA/OCIC Conference on Asian Cinema and Women
by Karen Waterman (4/1995)

Delhi, India, was the venue of this years UNDA/OCIC-Asia meeting. The topic selected for discussion was Asian Cinema and Women. It was certainly a trendy mixture in the light of the centennial anniversary of film, and the shortly before finalised United Nations World Conference on Women in Beijing. Definitely a rich mixture for the limited time span of three study days.

Les Médias, la Violence, et la Paix
par Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini (4/1995)

A mirror of our society, the media report on violence, war, injustice, starvation... They are part of the "death culture". But perhaps it is not enough to say that. Are the media not becoming more and more violent themselves? Don't they also contribute to the current violence? Indeed as reported, analysed and in the several reports and books published by or in collaboration with the Association "Reporters sans Frontiéres" sometimes media and journalists are actors and responsible for the violence. In his speech to the UCIP World Congress in Graz, Cardinal Martini questioned the meaning of "Press Freedom" and proposed some concrete ways for an ethic of peace in the media: on the one side - the media side - pluralism and transparency of the sources, on the other side - the receivers' side - media education and a critical attitude.

Brazil: Video Production Training
by Wolf Gauer (3/1995)

Television plays a crucial role and occupies an important place in the daily life of Brazilians while the use of video in education is widely appreciated. Yet despite this, professional training in video production is largely inadequate. Many video enthusiasts are convinced that their natural talents and skills are all they require to become the great film-makers and directors of tomorrow. All too often they merely reproduce faithfully the mannerisms and bad habits of television and Hollywood. However, the progression from idea to concept, from scenario to image requires not only a minimum of rigour and technical ability, but also an understanding of the production process as a whole. Through realistic and practical training, the exuberant imagination and creativity of these Brazilian video enthusiasts can be channelled into quality productions, both for television broadcasting and to answer social and educational requirements and the needs of cultural minorities.

Médias Audiovisuelles: Formation, Toutes !
par Georges Carpentier, François Desfonds, François-Xavier Roussel (3/1995)

Immersed in a world of sound and images through TV, video, CD-ROMs, multimedia... don't we have a natural understanding and immediate access to the whole audio-visual world? It is in fact just the opposite! More than ever an education to read and some knowledge of the audio-visual language and culture is a necessity for all of us: users, producers... Because of this fundamental need and based on their experience as trainers in the field of audiovisuals, the responsibles of the National Catechetical Association for Audio-visual (ACNAV, Paris) propose here some urgent themes concerning a better and wider collaboration in the field of training and production, as well as the marketing and distribution of the resulting products.

ABVP: Democratización de los Medios de Comunicación
por Caetano Scannavino (3/1995)

Created in 1984, today the Brazilian Association of Popular Video has 300 affliates such as the "TV of the Street", independent producers, NGO's, researchers etc. The association is active in four main fields: training, distribution, information, and production support. These wide-ranging tasks have strengthened the role of the ABVP as a nation-wide forum for independent video-initiatives. Together with other pressure groups, the ABVP co-ordinates the "National Forum for the Democratisation of the Media" which aims at breaking the alliance between political power and the media. In this context, it should be remembered that at present, of the 503 Brazilian congress deputies, 103 are owners of radio or television stations. Therefore, the ABVP promotes the idea of a 1aw of democratic information offering the possibility of public TV open to the different groups of civil society.

Film and Video: A Source for Group Reflections
by Manuel Olivera SJ (3/1995)

A valuable field to promote the use of videos can be the creation of a list of films facilitating a comprehensive exchange of ideas. A review not only of the complex works, such as for example those of Ingmar Bergman, but also of popular movies such as "Sister Act". A study not reduced to explicitly religious films like for instance "The Ten Commandments" but also including those which contain human values like "Dances with Wolves". An analysis of examples like "Blue" as well as those which perhaps do not find our approval but which can be useful for the improvement of our thoughts. The author proposes creating lists especially designed to facilitate the conducting of debates, which are also for people still not used to working in this field. Obviously a person is still lacking who could co-ordinate this work and up-date it constantly, as it is a long, difficult, never-ending task. The following remarks on the film "Mission" can serve as an example for this type of lists, leaving apart all technical aspects.

Senegal: Vidéo et Cinéma
par Jean Vast (3/1995)

Saint-Louis in Senegal is surely the African Catholic capital for cinema and audio-video, where, even at the beginning of the century, Fr. Daniel Brottier organised one of the very first movie projections on African soil. Now at the end of the century, Fr. Jean Vast has succeeded in setting up a unique and exceptional documentation centre on cinema, in particular African cinema. This Catholic Information and Documentation Centre Daniel Brottier, officially opened in June 1993, is the result of thirty years of persistent communication activities. Thanks to video, this centre is currently a real "School of Cinema" organising sessions for professional cineasts, but also cine- and video-clubs for students, youth and adults. Also thanks to video, these video-forum activities are presently expanding to other parts of the country, even continent-wise.

Kenya: Ukweli Videos telling the Stories of Faith
by Fr. Richard Quinn and Fr. Martin Kivuva (3/1995)

Since 1981, the Nairobi-based Ukweli Video in Kenya has set itself the goal of spreading the Gospel by telling stories through the power of images. Currently, Ukweli Video is busy with a double series of programmes. The first is entitled 'The Good News of Salvation' and was launched to coincide with the Decade of Evangelism (1991-2000). It offers real testimonies of faith and true-to-life stories of Christian movements and even tackles sensitive issues such as AIDS. The second series, entitled 'Catholic Responses', began in 1994 with the aim of addressing questions frequently asked by and put to those baptised in the faith. This series will eventually run to seventy programmes of 45 minutes each. However, these religious programmes could not be produced if this video production unit, which uses high-performance BETACAM equipment and has relatively high operating costs, were not at least partially successful in self-financing through income from commercial work, and if there had not been a steadfast will to improve the distribution and presentation of its own productions.

Pakistan: Watching in Pin-Drop Silence
by Rev. L. J. Saldhana (3/1995)

It was only recently, in 1989, that the Catholic Church in Pakistan embarked upon the adventure of video production, with the establishment of a studio in Lahore, equipped initially with a basic Sony Handycam. In Pakistan, however, video is regarded essentially as a form of entertainment. In such a context, despite technical advances, the production and distribution of religious programmes or programmes with educational or development themes remain difficult. In addition, the great majority of potential users, such as catechists and priests are not aware of the possibilities offered by video. Even the author is forced to conclude that video is still a new medium in Pakistan and one whose enormous potential in the work of evangelism and the development of the people has yet to be discovered by educators and promoters of the faith.

Del Documental a la Ficción: Una Evolución Impostergable
por Ana María Egaña Baraona (3/1995)

Developments in television touch not only the technical aspects but also influence the expectations of the audience concerning ways of presentation, audio-visual language and drama formats. Instead of passively perceiving messages, the viewer increasingly becomes an interacting part of the communication process. The effects of soap-operas demonstrate this in an impressive way. This fact also results in new challenges for the producers of so-called educational and pastoral videos. Without denying the specific advantages of documentaries, the producers should familiarise themselves with the drama codes and structures used in TV to enable them to mediate their messages to a broad public.

Palavra Viva: A Successful Concept of Religious TV Spots in Brazil
by Sr. Ana Elidia Aleves SSPS (3/1995)

Since its establishment in 1993, the Palavra Viva (Living Word) Association has produced more than 270 TV advertisements, short films of about two minutes length, which today are broadcasted by more than 500 TV stations throughout Brazil. Palavra Viva encompasses some forty religious congregations, which contribute with both financial resources and personnel to the production of these advertisements. The advertisements themselves reflect the daily life of the people, suggest solutions to their problems and show how the Gospel can be both a resource and a source of inspiration in their personal lives and lead to greater justice, fellowship and solidarity in society. Despite financial difficulties resulting from the high costs of television production, the producers have succeeded in creating attractive and dynamic programmes, which are popular both with viewers and television stations, which broadcast them free of charge.

PUSKAT's Experience in Indonesia: The Idea of a "Media Village"
by Ruedi Hofmann SJ (3/1995)

Indonesia has experienced significant reshaping of its televisual landscape with both the proliferation of local television channels and the spread of the satellite dish. In response to this new situation, the PUSKAT audio-visual studio has opened a television training centre in rural surroundings outside Yogyakarta. This centre has become a real 'media village', with its many artistic and educational activities publicised daily in the village newspaper and transmitted in radio broadcasts and television programmes. The 'media village' has about forty trainees working towards professions in television. These trainees are introduced to the fundamental principles which underpin the framework of this experiment in training: an apprenticeship through the experience of communal life in the village; the will to empower people faced with a floodtide of images; the pursuit of artistic excellence and strong technical competency aimed at competitive local productions. To sum up, the aim is to make straight-talking productions which draw their inspiration from and reflect the daily lives of the people, and whose message must be both credible and recognisable as such to the public.

Televisión par Cable: La Experiencia del "Canal Familiar" en Argentina
por Luciano Esteban Zocola (3/1995)

When the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Argentina, founded its video centre, the responsibles aimed not only at the production of videos from a Christian perspective, but also looked, right from the beginning, for adequate ways to distribute these programmes. As a first step they formed a cable network, which guaranteed the transmission of the Archdiocesan programmes. They operate their own Cable TV station since November 1992, CANAL FAMILIAR ("Family Channel"). Mainly oriented towards young families, its schedule includes children's programmes as well as those for elderly people, e.g. movies, documentaries etc. In the morning CANAL FAMILIAR also transmits educational programmes for primary schools and their teachers.

TV Sudoeste do Paraná: Una Emisora Regional Eclesiástica
por Lindolfo Schmitz OFM (3/1995)

From 1968 onwards the Franciscans in Pato Branco (Paraná, Brazil) had the idea to start their own TV channel. Finally, in 1987 they managed to operate a regional Catholic TV station as part of the national 'Manchete' network with a daily local production of about two hours. In retrospect, the author resumes that 'TV Sudoeste do Paraná' had to learn, during a painful adjustment process, from a series of fundamental mistakes: the collaborators lacked experience and sensibility, the technical equipment was out-of-date and inadequate, there was no clear programme concept, and the operating costs were so high that for a long time they faced serious financial problems. In conclusion, essential 'practical lessons' learned during the last years have proved that the success of a regional television channel depends in great part on a qualified and highly motivated staff, a convincing programme concept, commercial viability and competitive technical standards.

Teleboconó: Television made by Children, but not only for Children
by Hans Peter Gohla (3/1995)

For the past sixteen years, children, between the ages of 6 and 16 years, in Boconó in the mountains of Venezuela have been running a television station which broadcasts every Monday to Friday between 4.00 p.m. and 10.00 p.m., reaching a public of 23 million viewers. More than 200 children and young people are the station's camera operators, editors, production crews, etc. Téléboconó is a television station in the hands of children, which broadcasts programmes made by children, but not targeted solely at children. Téléboconó programmes, with their strong local slant and orientation, attract many viewers. Behind this unique experiment is an able and generous local personality: Don Pablo Miliani, native of the region, engineer by profession and a former government minister for telecommunications. At the end of his career, convinced of the intrinsic worth of the individual and of the abilities of children, he created the Televisual and Cultural Foundation of Boconó to further the education of children and young people in the region. Through active participation in production, hands-on experience and an understanding of modern audio-visual and data processing technologies, the children learn and prepare themselves to participate in a better future. Today, some of those who worked at Téléboconó have become engineers, communicators, journalists, researchers and work in the capital of the country. They first acquired the tools of their trade at Téléboconó.

Pacific Islands: PEACESAT - A Satellite for Social Services
by Patrick Casserly (2/1995)

Are the new communication technologies accessible to the most underprivileged populations on the planet? Can they contribute to the development of the most disadvantaged regions? Can these technologies bridge the technology gap where the communication infrastructure is deficient, or in zones of low population density? The Internet and the information superhighway have reopened an old debate, which in its modern version had previously crystallised round the usage of communication satellites. Thus, for the Islands of the Pacific, a vast expanse of water interrupted by a few scattered islands with sparse populations, the satellite has rapidly come to be seen as an appropriate solution to telecommunications problems and a support for education, science and social and human relations services which are of direct interest to the populations involved. The author, who for some twelve years collaborated with the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific, describes here the PEACESAT project, which could be of great benefit to the local Church.

Legislación Chilena: Las Radios Agarrotadas
by Petra Stamm (2/1995)

Chile was one of the first countries in Latin America to pass a law concerning non-commercial or community radios. Originally it was expected to be an important step towards freedom of expression, especially for the marginalised population, supporting the numerous popular radio initiatives. Meanwhile it has become clear that this law produces just the opposite effect by creating the need for costly technical requirements, limiting power to one Watt and accordingly coverage of the station, and prohibiting the transmission of advertisements. Nevertheless, although their work has become even more difficult, the many grass root organisations involved in popular media continue their struggle, as they are convinced of their legitimate right to communication.

Is Catholic TV on its Way?
by Daniela Frank (2/1995)

Recently, the Church in Latin America has paid a great deal of attention to the television sector and to reinforcing its presence there. It already has the benefit of some valuable experience: several Christian institutions operate television stations or produce Catholic broadcasts. Study of their experiences has highlighted the necessity of orienting programming towards the needs and expectations of the target audience so as to combat existing hatred. An additional, often underestimated, problem is the enormous cost of producing programmes and operating a television station. On the basis of these observations, this article addresses the Church's alternatives for participating in the sphere of television. In conclusion, it encourages the Church's decision-makers and communicators to step up their efforts to create professional production centres which can collaborate directly with both public and commercial television channels, to engage in direct dialogue with the media and to participate actively in the implementation of communication policies.

Educommunication: A Task that still Awaits us
by Jerry O'Sullivan-Ryan (1/1995)

In many countries, the Church wants to have its own media - newspapers, printing presses, audio-visual production centres, radio and television stations etc. - in order to ensure a Christian presence in the communications sector. In this article, this priority is called into question by Jerry O'Sullivan-Ryan, former director of the department of social communications of the Episcopal Conference of Venezuela and adviser to DECOS-CELAM, the Church's communications department at continental level. He shares with us his experiences in educommunication through courses and sessions of 'critical reading' of television: the education of the public in active media reception skills is a new field for evangelism.

Church-Mouthpiece or Voice of the People?
By Michel Philippart (1/1995)

The Church is active in the new broadcasting pluralism in Africa through the setting up and running of Church-radio station. But which programme should be put on air to balance evangelisation, development, education... Some facts and questions in a plea for "Community Radio for Development".