Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Most Boring Program on Cuban Television

Yoani Sanchez - Award-winning Cuban blogger

The Most Boring Program on Cuban Television
Posted: 09/21/2012 3:37 pm

Few TV shows have been the object of as many jokes and parodies as the
Roundtable. Emerging from the heat of the so-called Battle of Ideas,
this program shows the highest level of political proselytizing to be
found in our national media. Its fundamental principal is to overwhelm
the television audience with official opinion, without allowing access
for contrary or critical views. To denigrate the nonconformists, with no
right to respond, is among the most repeated tactics at the microphones
of this incredibly boring broadcast. Everything is based on the premise
that we live in "paradise" while the rest of the world is falling apart
all around us.

As of September 10, the Roundtable has reduced its "on air" time by half
an hour. It has also modernized its set and even seems to have added a
brand new iPad for the exclusive use of the moderator. The camera angles
are bolder and some of its chubby participants have been put on diets.
They hope, with these tweaks, to add something of modernity to what was
covered with the thick dust of the anachronistic. However, the main
precepts governing the program remain intact. The most obvious is the
absence of plurality and the resulting monotony that results when
everyone thinks alike. And, a great contradiction, this kind of rubbish
pays its journalists the highest salaries known in the Cuban Institute
of Radio and Television (ICRT).

My words on this program, however, may be too influenced by the work I
also do in the information field. I will illustrate the opinion many
Cubans have with a recent anecdote. A little while ago, a friend was
outside a police station demanding the release of an activist who had
been arbitrarily detained. Her cellphone rang and it was her father
calling. He was afraid because his neighbor had told him that his
daughter was mixed up with "dissidents." In the heat of the situation,
my friend only managed to answer, "Papi, I already told you, don't watch
the Roundtable any more!" This simple phrase accentuates the gulf
between our national reality and the script of this televised soapbox.
She was telling her father that he continued to believe in a Cuba that
doesn't exist, a country where no arrests happen outside the law, there
are no police threats, no repudiation rallies. An apocryphal nation that
only exists from Monday through Friday, for one hour... on our small screen.

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