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International House of TV : SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA STATIONS FIND MORE THAN A NICHE FOR THE MANY CULTURES

August 08, 1993|N.F. MENDOZA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

An attentive audience poses careful questions. An ebullient female host, mike at the ready, listens raptly. A panel of experts, seated on stage, frankly discuss the ramifications of homosexuality. Just another hour with Oprah?

No, this is "Pei Pei's Time," in Mandarin Chinese, and the martial arts movie-star host has been dubbed "The Chinese Oprah."

A slightly rotund, engaging man presents a morning magazine-style show. Charles Kuralt? No. This man addresses his audience in Farsi. He's Parvis Asshar, host of "Sima-Y-Ashena" ("Familiar Face").

Television around the world? Nope. Television locally.

Flip channels around these days and it's possible to encounter broadcast programming in Spanish, Arabic, Cantonese, Hindi, Tagalog, Cambodian, Vietnamese, German, Afghan, Hungarian, Thai, French, Hebrew, Italian and more. The TV set has become a place to catch up with news from your native country, to listen to programming in your native tongue or to simply try to understand another language as it's spoken.

International programming caters to the interests of its audience and can change quickly--whether to add a new language or to tuck one away until audience interest resumes.

"Our policy is to add languages when a need for that becomes available," says KSCI representative Mary Barrow, citing the recent addition of Cambodian and Thai-language programming as an example.

Independently owned and operated KSCI, an affiliate of the International Channel Network, presents one of the largest smorgasbords of international-oriented and non-English programming from 6 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. daily. KDOC, based in Anaheim and seen throughout Southern California, currently offers three different kinds of ethnic programming.

Following is a look at some of the international-flavored and non-English fare that can be seen in Southern California. (Unless otherwise noted, shows discussed are on KSCI.)

Arabic

The Egyptian-oriented "Arab American Television" (Saturday 3:30 p.m.) is a magazine-style show focusing on cultural entertainment and local and international news, in English and Arabic. Other Arabic shows feature music videos as well as one that examines the history and ideology of Islam in English.

Armenian

"Armenian Teletime" (Saturday 10 a.m., Sunday 9 a.m.) presents a combination of musical performances, news and sports; "Horizon" (Saturday 5 p.m.) highlights current events, feature stories and the arts.

Cambodian

"Cambodian TV" (Friday 8:30 a.m. and Saturday 7 a.m.) offers news, variety and entertainment with occasional travel pieces to Cambodia.

Chinese

Produced in China, but presented in English, "China Today" on KDOC is divided into three parts: a general news-weekly review, news from China and a look at culture and entertainment. "The show is very timely," says program manager Lisa Starr. "They're trying to reach Chinese-Americans as well as non-Chinese Americans to give them a feel for the Chinese culture. It gives you feel for what the real China is about." (Airs Sunday 5 to 6 p.m. on KDOC.)

The extensive Chinese programming on KSCI includes the recently introduced live "International Report" in Cantonese (weekdays 6 p.m.) and the popular one-hour live "World Report" in Mandarin (weekdays 7 p.m.).

Other Chinese news includes "Taiwan News" (weekdays 11:30 a.m.) and "Chinese World TV" (weekdays), both in Mandarin.

"One of our most popular shows is 'Pei Pei's Time'," says Rosemary Danon, executive vice president and general manager of KSCI. The show, also seen in 38 Asian countries via Star TV, has given its host, a former Taiwanese martial arts movie actress, new celebrity status.

"She's in Hong Kong right now," says KSCI's Mary Barrow, "working on a movie." Barrow and Danon note that "Pei Pei's Time" (Tuedsay and Friday at 3 p.m., and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.) has covered topics not generally discussed in the Chinese community. "People were saying things like, 'You're not going to get anyone to talk about that ' to us," Danon recalls. The show has covered such topics as AIDS, the pressures of being successful in America, Chinese students who study in the United States and workaholic parents who leave their children with secondary care givers.

"Afternoon Showcase" (Monday to Friday 1 p.m.) presents movies and dramas in Chinese.

For those who want to keep their pulse on contemporary Chinese music, KSCI occasionally airs Chinese music videos. Talk shows are popular among Mandarin-speaking viewers. "Tea Time" (Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 3 p.m.) features interviews with local Chinese personalities.

Farsi

The "Good Morning America"-like "Sima-Y-Ashena" (weekdays 7:30 a.m.), a live morning-magazine show, and "Emshab With Parviz" (weekdays at midnight), offer up-to-date news on Iran. "Iran Television" (Sunday 12:30 a.m.) offers news, politics, entertainment and interviews.

"Iranian Afghanistan TV (IRTV)" (Sunday 11 a.m. to noon) features performing arts and commentaries from those in the Afghani community.

French

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