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Monday, 28 May, 2001, 10:24 GMT 11:24 UK
Storm over Greek Big Brother
French people protesting about the French version of Big Brother, Loft Story
Reality shows have sparked protests across Europe
The Greek version of Big Brother has been described as "an insult to human rights and civilisation" before it has even started.

Journalists, regulators and students are worried that the show, which has caused controversy but been a hit around the world, will drag the standard of television to a new low.

Twelve contestants will be locked in a house for 112 days with their every move caught on camera.


We have turned a game show into a nightmare

Popi Diamandakou
Columnist
Its voyeuristic style has already polarised audiences and sparked debate in France, Portugal, Italy and Australia.

But it has been a ratings-winner in almost all of the 15 countries where it has been shown.

"Big Brother brings to the surface of society the most repulsive characteristics of human nature," said Greek newspaper Kathimerini.

Journalists and media students are planning to stage an anti-Big Brother rally outside TV station Antenna's offices on 9 June.

Inspiration

"We think this kind of reality show is an insult to human rights and civilization," protest organizer Nassos Bratsos said.

"There have been many other demonstrations like this in Europe... and this has inspired us to do the same here."

The show will be broadcast free on Antenna TV, with four pay-per-view channels screening different views from the house simultaneously.

Contestants are voted out of the house one-by-one. The last one remaining wins $130,000 (91,600).

"We have turned a game show into a nightmare," columnist Popi Diamandakou wrote in Ta Nea newspaper.

Portuguese Big Brother
Portuguese sex scenes sparked outrage
The National Council for Radio and Television is worried that the show could violate obscenity rules.

Guidelines were tightened after another channel aired footage of a Greek pop singer having sex last year.

A similar scenario has outraged many in Portugal.

Two contestants in their Big Brother house were seen having sex, before being thrown out of the house and getting married.

Broadcaster TVI could now be in trouble with TV watchdogs.

"If a person can be jailed for exhibitionism in a town square or a municipal park, why are they permitted to do it on national television?" the country's former health minister Maria de Belem said.

In France, protesters worried about the dumbing down of their TV shows tried to storm the studios of Loft Story, another surveillance game show.

Police had to use tear gas to control hundreds of people protesting about "tele poubelle" - or trash TV.

The popularity of these programmes spread around the world after the original Big Brother - which filmed nine volunteers for 24 hours a day for 100 days - became an unexpected hit in Holland in 1999.



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