Smoking scenes in TV programs

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Al-Jazirah newspaper

I WISH I had not watched an Egyptian drama on SBC, the new Saudi satellite channel, this Ramadan as its heroes encourage viewers to smoke, violating the sanctity of the holy month.

We never expected the screening of such dramas on a television channel that we all had welcomed with applause and I personally believe that it does not augur well for the channel. We have been expecting national channels to refuse to promote smoking when tobacco companies put pressure on them offering bribes and advertisements.

Tobacco companies often try to sneak into dramas and films to get publicity for their products. They pay huge amounts of money to producers and artists for making such concessions.

Tobacco companies apply the same trick on TV channels and now we see they have encroached into a Saudi channel, which is watched by families.

It was unfortunate that SBC Saudi Arabia aired that drama, which was not impressive in terms of content and whose heroine was shown smoking whenever she appears. How can they air such a drama as part of the channel’s Ramadan programs?

It is interesting to note that while SBC was showing this controversial drama another Arab channel was airing an anti-smoking advertisement produced by the Saudi Health Ministry. The ad, which is shown this Ramadan, aims to educate viewers on the harmful and dangerous effects of smoking.

I wish SBC had shown this advertisement in between the drama during Ramadan and other days in order to reduce its negative impact on viewers. I am not evaluating the performance of the channel, which was launched a few weeks ago. However, I was embarrassed to watch smoking scenes on SBC while most channels refuse to air such clips.

Moreover, some anti-smoking organizations have warned the media before Ramadan that they would not hesitate to file lawsuits against them if they violate the rules and regulations regarding publication of video clips that promote smoking. Media organizations in the Kingdom have been instructed to remove such video clips from their dramas and other programs.

As I like SBC being a channel that concerns all Saudi media persons, I wish it would attract a large number of viewers considering the huge efforts being put up to establish the channel and design and produce its programs. I made this small observation with the hope that the channel’s executives and managers would accept it with an open heart and show good dramas and other programs so that we can happily watch them during and after Ramadan on the channel’s marvelous screens.


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