Goal! Yay! We regularly pop into the family friendly shopping mall at Castelo Branco where there’s a great selection of restaurants, including well known chains, hamburgers, pizza, steaks, soups, Japanese, Spanish, American and of course Portugal cuisine. It suits everyone in the family and we enjoy watching a major football match from the four screens, one in each corner, cheering with the crowd when a goal is scored by Portugal.
Mainly though it is the news. There’s no watershed to news content. Gruesome and voyeuristic deaths have flashed across my screen at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Today was no different as we ate our pizzas and my son’s eyes were glued to the TV. I looked at what he was watching. A woman had been pulled to the floor. Her skirt was up around her waist and she was being beaten. There was no sound on screen and we had no idea of the news item so it was completely out of context, and thus difficult for me to explain or answer his questions. Around us people were shopping, eating, laughing. I wonder what he took away from that afternoon.
Why do the management of this shopping mall in Castelo Branco think it is an appropriate time and place to show those images, with children of all ages watching. If you have the news channel on then you have to be responsible for showing the content it is putting out. Death and violence to others is not entertainment.
In the UK we would listen to a jolly song, singing along on the drive home from school. Tra la la, lerve yer yeh..yeh…ginger pop. Then boom! The news would splurt on and I would fumble with the volume button while driving so we didn’t hear the gruesome details of a violent crime with all the gore, nothing held back. I’m not putting my head under a blanket, my heart goes out to all tragedies in all countries, but this stuff, disturbing for us all, truly isn’t suitable for children to hear and I can’t think why day time radio thinks it is. That’s why we have a nine o’clock watershed for tv programmes. Except for the news.
Until we can understand the language I don’t have that problem in Portugal, instead I have to police the screens in every cafe I walk into with my children. So please, come on content controllers, managers, programmers, think about the kids, there’s ‘need to know’ and a ‘need to know’.