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Last Updated: Monday, 15 August 2005, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
Malaysian TV worm-eating criticised
By Jonathan Kent
BBC News, Kuala Lumpur

Muslims in Malaysia
Rais Yatim does not want TV programmes to offend local culture
Malaysia's culture minister has criticised the country's satellite TV operator for broadcasting shows in which people eat worms or talk too frankly about sex.

Rais Yatim said the programmes offended local sensibilities, and he asked the company to be more discerning.

The nation's main TV channel offers an unrelenting diet of grim-faced Islamic scholars and wholesome family entertainment.

But while such programmes may be morally superior, a growing number of Malaysians prefer watching people enjoying a very different diet.

They would rather tune into shows like Fear Factor, where people eat bugs and do other revolting things, to win $50,000 (187,743 ringgit).

Culture Minister Rais Yatim said: "We don't have to eat worms here, there are other ways to earn a living in Malaysia."

True - but not many that pay $50,000. Indeed a good third of the country seems happy to shell out a hard-earned $20 (75 ringgit) a month for a satellite TV subscription so they can watch programmes like Sex in the City and Six Feet Under.

These shows have also been criticised by Mr Rais, who is a passionate defender of local culture.

He believes such programmes contain negative elements.

Both certainly deal unblinkingly with certain topics - particularly sex and relationships - that many people in Malaysia feel should be approached more discreetly.

However Mr Rais may be fighting an uphill battle. These shows are already heavily cut for transmission in Malaysia, so pirates do a brisk trade in illegal but uncensored copies.

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