Italian TV viewers avoid reality

Scott Jagow Oct 16, 2007
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Italian TV viewers avoid reality

Scott Jagow Oct 16, 2007
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TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Scott Jagow: It appears some people in the world are finally sick of reality television. At a trade show in Cannes this week, the Italian TV networks have decided not to buy reality shows, or even reality show ideas. Viewership of these shows has tanked.

Megan Williams joins us from Rome. Hi, Megan. Why are the Italians done with reality TV?

Megan Williams: Well, one of the reasons the networks are citing is the fact that kind of bad behavior has taken over some of these shows. And last year, some of the participants in the “Big Brother” show used blasphemous language, which really rankled people in Italy. It kind of changed public perception of these shows as being, you know, kind of harmless, silly shows to promoting bad manners and kind of low life on national television. So that’s part of it. I think another reason is people are just sick of it.

Jagow: Do you have any sense that TV business is concerned about this? That maybe the reality show is on the decline?

Williams: I think the perception is is that reality shows have had their run. I mean, interestingly enough, in Cannes, the only reality show that was creating any sort of a buzz was this new one called “When Women Rule The World.” This one has 10 women ruling the world, and they have men as their slaves. And it’s, you know, sort of an experimental government, so it’s much more complicated than your typical reality show. Now that did have a lot of fights in other countries. Italy didn’t buy that, which is somehow not surprising — it’s probably terrifying possibility for Italian men to consider a world in which women would rule the world.

Jagow: So what are the Italian networks buying at Cannes instead?

Williams: Well, from what I understand, they’re interested in game shows like “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.” Another trend that’s kind of interesting is the traditional quiz, but personalized. So I don’t know if you remember the old American show, “This Is Your Life.” They’re buying versions of that, so people come on and they get quizzed about their own lives. Then at the end, somebody from their past comes out, and there’s a big kind of emotional, Oprah-esque reunion. So they’re kind of hybrid shows, where they still have that heavy voyeuristic and emotional component, but they have a quiz, too.

Jagow: All right. Megan Williams in Rome. Thank you.

Williams: Thanks, Scott.

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