Children’s cartoon Spongebob Squarepants has fallen afoul of Indonesia’s broadcasting watchdog. Again.
As reported by Kompas, on September 5, the Indonesian Broadcast Commission (KPI) sent a written warning to local channel GTV for broadcasting scenes that allegedly portrayed violence in The Spongebob Squarepants Movie.
In the warning, KPI said that the movie, first broadcasted by GTV on August 6, portrayed scenes of violence that were inappropriate for children, particularly as it was aired during a time slot reserved for content suitable for family viewing.
“In addition, [the movie was aired again] on August 22, 2019 starting at 3:06pm, which contained scenes such as throwing pie at someone’s face and hitting someone with a block of wood,” KPI Deputy Chairman Mulyo Hadi Purnomo said.
While we couldn’t find the specific scenes in question in clips from the movie that are on Youtube, this scene should give you a good idea of the level of “violence” Spongebob and pals get up to. Be warned, though, this scene depicts women wearing bikinis. /S
At any rate, KPI ruled that GTV violated several articles in the Broadcasting Code of Conduct and Program Standards (P3-SPS), including the prohibition of content that might encourage children to learn about inappropriate behavior. It said the TV station only received a written warning because this was its first offense of its kind.
KPI also said it recently sent written warnings to 13 other programs for various infringements of broadcast standards, such as depictions of sensuality, interpersonal conflicts and violations of privacy.
In the past, KPI has given sterner sanctions to repeat offenders, such as banning a program from broadcast. However, some of these programs have returned under slightly tweaked names and/or premise.
Bikini Bottom and blurred bikini
Spongebob Squarepants, while popular with children all over the world, probably can’t count KPI as fans. After all, one of the most ridiculous targets of TV censorship in the country in recent years was Sandy Cheeks, the squirrel girl character in Spongebob Squarepants, whose bikini was blurred by a TV station with KPI’s stringent standards in mind.
Other targets of TV censorship that have been ridiculed by Indonesian netizens in recent years include a humanoid robot, a female swimmer competing in Indonesia’s National Games, and Puteri Indonesia contestants wearing traditional kebayas.
KPI is often blamed for TV stations’ overzealous censorship, but the committee has in the past repeatedly clarified that it is the TV stations themselves who decide what to censor on a show-by-show basis. However, TV stations have in turn said that the reason they’ve gone overboard with their censoring is because they fear sanctions by KPI, who have set out strict guidelines for broadcasting standards.