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Thursday, 17 May, 2001, 15:45 GMT 16:45 UK
Reality TV shocks Portugal
O Bar da TV
Contestants are planning a striptease show in the bar
Portugal's popular reality TV show - O Bar da TV (TV Bar) has been slammed by MPs, church leaders and the media for allegedly infringing the participants' privacy.

The competitors on O Bar da TV live in a Lisbon apartment next to their only source of income - a bar.

The bar is only open to the public from Wednesday to Saturday, but what goes on in the apartment is broadcast on the internet 24 hours a day via 36 cameras.

O Bar da TV contestant
Portuguese family groups have asked SIC to withdraw the programme
The row errupted after SIC, the channel which makes the programme, broadcast an emotional conversation between a competitor and her parents, who wanted her to leave the show.

Her parents were distressed by the previous day's broadcast in which the contestants passed around a vibrator and condoms and also by scenes of contestants showering naked.

The broadcast took place against the wishes of the young woman.

Two government ministers have written a joint letter to the High Authority for the Media, the official regulatory body, asking it to take "appropriate measures".

They complained about "a clear debasement of the fundamental right to privacy" of the contestants.

'Vile spectacle'

The government ministers are not alone in criticising the show.

Roman Catholic Bishop Januario Torgal Ferreria told daily newspaper 24 Horas he was "shocked that people are selling their souls".

The head of the national Lawyers' Association, Antonia Pires de Lima, urged the country's president to take what he called "drastic" action.

And the daily paper Publico, in a editorial on Thursday, described the show as "the most vile spectacle" ever on Portuguese television.

Loft Story protests
Protests accompanied French reality TV show Loft Story
The 12 contestants will be whittled down by a public voting system over three months and the eventual winner will collect 20 million Portuguese escudos (61,495).

Earlier in the week France's television regulators demanded changes in the French reality TV show Loft Story, citing the need to preserve human dignity.

The Portuguese regulatory body has decided to take no action, but on Wednesday issued SIC with a warning about its infringement of "ethical and moral parameters".

The channel responded saying that there was no "concrete example" of such an infringement and accused the authority of "persecution."

SIC used to be Portugal's leading television channel and is now engaged in a ratings war with the country's other private channel, TV1, which drew record audiences with its reality show Big Brother - which has been a hit across Europe.

See also:

08 May 01 | Entertainment
03 May 01 | Entertainment
24 Apr 01 | Entertainment
04 Apr 01 | Entertainment
21 Feb 01 | Entertainment
24 Aug 00 | Entertainment
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