Intervention on TV

Kathimerini’s opinion of «Big Brother» and ‘Bar»-type television programs, the so-called reality shows and the self-styled investigatory talk shows, is widely known and has been frequently expressed. These programs comprise low-level television products which are designed to lure viewers through voyeurism. Their service to citizens’ informational and recreational needs is dismal, while their overall impact on viewers is clearly negative, even if difficult to quantify. However, Kathimerini’s view concerns the quality of these programs. Beyond this, we have repeatedly noted that certain shows supposedly offering investigatory journalism probe the depths of low quality and sometimes approximate systematic defamation and mudslinging of both famous and ordinary people. For the latter type of show, the judgment is not just a qualitative one. They are not just a bad product; they are also an illegal one. Distinguishing between the two cases is of major significance before we evaluate the decision taken by Vassilis Lambridis, director of the National Radio and Television Council (ESP), to ban the broadcasting of «Big Brother» and «Bar,» and ESP’s decision on the issue, which is expected today. Indeed, while it would be hard to question the low quality of the two shows, it would be equally hard to claim that the two programs violate the law or that they must be banned because they transgress ethical standards, when most television networks are full of low-quality programming. In this light, Lambridis’s decision seems hasty, to say the least, especially if one considers that the ESP director made use of an extraordinary competence while one of the two shows is already running a second round and the nature of the latter had been known long before it was screened. ESP is an independent authority, but this does not rid it of the obligation to respect the principle of legality and to decide on crucial issues in timely fashion, with consistency and fixed standards. If, for some reason, it deems that certain shows should be broadcast at later hours or meet specified standards, this is a question of a legal framework, which must be set out with clarity and following the necessary evaluation.

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