Televisionpoint.com Team In a country with few opportunities to publicly vent frustrations, Colombians have been flocking to kiosks where they can record brief video clips that are then beamed into living rooms as part of the TV show "CityCapsula."m AP reported.
"Nobody ever listens to the people," office messenger Mauricio Gomez angrily told the camera, throwing his hands in the air. "I don't know if this message will help, but at least many people will see it, and that makes me feel better."
His message: "The police are not above the law. They can't put peoples' lives at risk by driving at full speed."
He said he was speaking to the camera at a kiosk on a busy downtown street corner after police showed little interest in his complaint.
One man shuffled up to a camera and whispered a confession: "I am bored with my wife and I am looking for a mistress. Can anybody help?"
Another broadcast showed two young women striding up and flashing their breasts.
But not just the disenfranchised or exhibitionists record messages: So have Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, Bogota Mayor Luis Eduardo Garzon and Colombian movie and music celebrities.
The show has become popular among viewers in this rainy Andean city of 7 million that mixes urban high-rise office buildings with sprawling mountainside shanty towns.
"My husband gets mad at me because I don't like to miss an episode," said Fabiola Villamizar, a housewife drinking coffee at Bogota's Unicentro shopping mall. "I love peering into people's lives, sharing their frustrations and thoughts."
Takeshi Pedraos, the show's producer at independent CityTV, said 8,000 to 10,000 Bogota residents record messages every week at a dozen video-equipped kiosks that are regularly shifted around the city to ensure diversity. Locations have included shopping malls, trade fairs, a women's prison, a cemetery even the front of a brothel. About 300 clips per week, each about 30 seconds long, make the air.
"Bogotanos love the program, especially those from lower- and middle-income families who feel they don't have a voice in the country," Pedraos said in an interview. "It's uncensored and authentic."
Contributors to the show often complain about high crime, traffic congestion and snarled bureaucratic paperwork to collect pensions, open businesses or attend college.
The program started seven years ago, but it took people awhile to overcome their nervousness in front of the camera and fear of retribution in a country beset by violence, Pedraos said.
Securing the kiosks has also been a challenge. Thieves have tried to make off with cameras, vandals have overturned the machines or spray-painted the camera lens, and technicians once had to venture into a riot to rescue a kiosk threatened by the mob.
Producers now choose the locations carefully, such as installing a kiosk outside a fire station so firefighters can keep an eye out without intimidating potential users.
Short segments are aired on CityTV throughout the day while a full program sometimes containing obscenities or the occasional flashes of skin is shown twice a week late at night.
Many users deliver messages of love. For others it's a chance to showcase their acting or singing skills or lack thereof rally support for their favorite soccer team or promote an upcoming concert or cultural exhibit.
The show has also helped unite missing loved ones or estranged relatives, Pedraos said.
Producers sometimes feature weekly themes, ranging from the lighthearted ("what turns you on the most") to more serious topics such as corruption and health.
Pedraos said he would like to have the kiosks all around this nation of 40 million, but because CityTV is only a Bogota channel, it's restricted to the capital. But as the number of Colombians who own cable TV rises, that could change.
"It would be great to have kiosk in the Amazon jungle," said Pedraos.
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