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Child death prompts call for Indonesian TV to drop wrestling

INDONESIA: Indonesia's broadcasting watchdog Tuesday asked a television station to drop or move a popular US wrestling program after a child was killed trying to imitate the moves of his muscle-bound heroes.

The "World Wrestling Entertainment" show has been blamed for the death of a nine-year-old boy in Bandung, West Java, last month, after three teenage friends staged a mock wrestling match with him.

At least four other primary schoolboys have also suffered various injuries after taking part in wrestling matches apparently inspired by the show which features continuous "smackdown" professional wrestling matches.

The Broadcast Commission of Indonesia (KPI) regulator has asked LAtivi station to either drop the program or screen it very late, a committee member and a company spokesman said Tuesday.

"What was directly requested, was that we push its screening time or drop the program," LAtivi spokesman Radly Doi said after a closed-door meeting with the KPI.

"This program is the one that has reaped the largest number of protests in the history of the committee," KPI member Ade Armando said. He said the committee would make an official recommendation "in the next one or two days."

"And we hope that LAtivi will take the necessary steps," said Armando.

Doi said that since November 25, the program had been accompanied by written and verbal warnings that it was not suitable for children and cautioning against imitating the wrestlers. It is already screened after 10:00 pm in accordance with broadcast regulations.

Many people, including educators and legislators, as well as parents of the dead child, have called for the station to drop the program which they said was prone to be imitated by children.

"It has always been our stance that programs that are misleading, full of violence, pornography or mysticism and other uneducational or uninformative programs should be avoided, including this program," Theo Sambuaga, who heads the parliamentary commission covering the information sector, told AFP.

Sambuaga said the commission had already asked the KPI to more closely monitor television and radio broadcasts.

Several schools have since banned students from wrestling, threatening violators with sanctions ranging from calling their parents to expulsion.

Wrestling programs have been blamed for other child deaths.

JAKARTA, Thursday, AFP

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