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Last Updated: Friday, 4 July, 2003, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Zambia clergy slams Big Brother
By Penny Dale
BBC, Lusaka

A group of Zambian churches has demanded that the reality television show Big Brother Africa be taken off the air.

Contestants chatting in garden
The groups' every move is broadcast across the continent
"Immoral, indecent and dishonest - that is how you will end up," the churches are warning, if you watch the South Africa-based show making headlines from Cape to Cairo.

The show brings together in a single house 12 contestants - each from a different African country.

Just about every move the housemates make - their time in bed, in the kitchen, in the garden and in the shower - is caught on camera and beamed into people's homes every night.

The contestants compete against each other to see who stays in the house the longest and at the end of 106 days, the winner gets a prize of US$100,000.

'Moral alert'

There is nothing the clergy can do about the fact that the show is beamed into people's homes by satellite but Zambia is one of 10 countries where Big Brother is also shown on the national broadcaster.

Bishop Joshua Banda from the Assembly of God church in Lusaka's Northmead district has launched what he calls a "moral alert" and urged Zambians to sign a petition demanding that the minister of information and broadcasting stops the nightly visits to the house made by state-owned television, ZNBC.

Cherise from Zambia
Zambian Big Brother fans back their contestant, Cherise

The Bread of Life and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia are among the churches that agree with Bishop Banda's complaints that the programme is a mockery of African culture.

They say the housemates' antics - especially during "shower hour" - are eroding Zambia's moral fibre and undermining efforts to change sexual behaviour as a way of combating the spread of HIV and Aids.

The bishops' anger has sparked many an argument, in bars, among passengers in commuter minibuses, even among church congregations.

Plenty agree that scenes of nudity and housemates' canoodling are disgusting and morally corrupting.

But Big Brother fans - and there are plenty of those as well - tell the bishops to mind their business and switch channels if they don't want to watch but leave others with the freedom to choose.

The power of the bishops should not be underestimated: in the past, they have succeeded in removing programmes they find distasteful, including the popular Channel O music show - also broadcast by the South Africa M-Net channel which shows Big Brother Africa.


SEE ALSO:
Africa swap for Big Brother
23 Jun 03  |  Entertainment
African housemate leaves Big Brother
26 Jun 03  |  Entertainment


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