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Monday, 14 May, 2001, 11:07 GMT 12:07 UK
Protesters raid French Big Brother
Protestors at M6 head office
"We will not be mice in a cage" says the banner
Protests have been staged in France against a controversial version of reality TV show Big Brother.

A group calling themselves Activists Against Trash TV clashed with security guards during a Saturday raid on the set of Loft Story.

In a separate incident, guards used tear gas to prevent protesters breaking into the Paris headquarters of the makers of the show, channel M6.

Some of Loft Story's female contestants
Show must not undermine "respect of human dignity"
Some 250 people dumped sacks of rubbish, supermarket trolleys and signs in the entrance and threw eggs and tomatoes at the building.

The French television watchdog, the Conseil Superieur de L'Audiovisuel, is to hold an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss Loft Story.

Sexual

"The CSA must determine whether a television channel can air a programme that incites young people to enter into a relationship for profit," the chairman of a private television channel wrote in Le Monde newspaper.

The aim of Loft Story is to portray the flings of house-sharing 20-somethings. The eventual winners - a couple - must live together for a further six months in order to claim their prize.

The contestants for the three million FF (285,000) prize are tracked round the clock by TV cameras.

They must stay in their loft apartment home until they are voted out by a combination of games, such as karaoke, and a viewers' poll.

Loft Story protests
200 protestors tried to break into the set
Film from two of the show's 26 cameras goes out live on M6, a free-to-air television channel.

Dignity

But material from other cameras and intimate highlights are saved for a pay-per-view satellite channel and the maker's website.

Since its launch at the end of April, Loft Story has attracted intense criticism from academics and the media in France.

One leading TV presenter called it "lowest common denominator television".

Earlier this month the CSA stepped in to warn the makers of Loft Story that they must not show anything that could "undermine the dignity of the human person".

That warning came after two of the show's contestants Jean Edouard and Loana, engaged in a late night tryst in the house's swimming pool.

The programme has been a resounding hit with viewers.

On Thursday alone, 7.7million viewers, 38% of the French television audience, tuned in to watch one of the contestants voted out of the show.

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See also:

30 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
French Big Brother faces censors
24 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
Big Brother contestants muzzled
17 Mar 01 | Entertainment
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08 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Big Brother scores hat-trick
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