The Reality Television Programs in Malaysia.

Written By Amirah Sohaimi


Reality TV is typically defined as a non-fictional programming in which portrayal is presumed to present current, historical events or circumstances. The production itself must be a realistic account.  Generally included in this category are news and public affairs programming, interviews, talk shows, entertainment, or news programming, documentaries, real world events, police or emergency worker drama, and live quiz shows.

Over the years, the media industry in Malaysia has witnessed a growing and troubling trend of media ownership concentration and consolidation, which was triggered by economic and to some extent, political reflections. The Government, in general, supports the Islamic religious establishment and infuses Islamic values into the administration and official policy of the country. The centralization of Islam occurred most extensively under the Mahathir Government, starting from about the mid-1980s onwards.

In a multicultural society, media in Malaysia has some of the toughest censorship laws; and it is becoming very challenging for media to produce shows in terms of breaking the boundaries of the religious rules. However, with globalization the West, it clearly has influenced the Malaysian media industry. Malaysia has imported a lot of reality television shows from the West. Although there are still restrictions on what can be shown on the local television, but the changes are a huge step in the Malaysian media industry.

When we are exposed to a wide range of imported western TV programs, to some extent we can see a change in the pattern of our daily lives. But this does not mean that Malaysians are 100% influenced by the Western culture.

Although Malaysians have expressed their views on reality TV, there are signs of conflict that comes from other critics such as academics, politicians, entertainers and even from ordinary citizens. Some do agree that the lack of Asian values portrayed in the content of the local reality TV programs is the cause of the erosion of Asian values in today’s community.

We must realize that conflicts and dilemma may arise between people who wish to accept foreign cultures and those who wish to maintain their traditional cultures and reject the external values and beliefs. We must accept the criticisms, comments and arguments with regard to the positive and negative values portrayed in the reality TV programs. In the end, we are all hand-in-hand promoting Malaysia’s nation-building exercises towards a developed nation.