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Friday, 22 March, 2002, 17:02 GMT
Ban on Greek Big Brother overturned
Camera crews
Contestants are filmed 24 hours a day
A move to outlaw two popular TV reality shows, including Big Brother, in Greece has been blocked.

The president of the National Council for Radio and Television, Vasillis Lambridis, pulled the shows off air claiming they overstepped the boundaries of public decency.

But his decision to suspend the shows was not supported by the rest of the television watchdog, which voted 8-1 to allow them to continue broadcasting.

But as a compromise the members recommended the shows be moved from their 2200 timeslot to after midnight.

A five-hour meeting was held by the television watchdog agency to discuss the content of the Greek Big Brother and The Bar.

Nudity and sex

"I am not here to ban things." said agency member Sofia Voultepsi after the decision.

Both shows have come under intense scrutiny because they have featured nudity and alluded to sex as the contestants are constantly filmed.

Antenna screens Big Brother, in which 14 contestants live for 112 days in a house filled with cameras and microphones following their every move.

One by one, the television and Internet audience vote them off the show. The last one to leave receives a prize of about 90,000.

Mega has The Bar, where 14 contestants live together in an Athens apartment next to a bar they must run for 14 weeks.

Every week a contestant is voted off the show with the last one winning 150,000 euros (92,600).

Both locations are also filled with cameras and microphones.

Both networks accused Mr Lambridis of attacking freedom of speech.

'Degrading'

The shows have been criticised by politicians, academics and religious leaders who believe they degrade the contestants and corrode family values, but few have demanded the programmes be taken off the air.

The shows are relatively tame compared with Greece's lurid soap operas, late-night soft porn movies and partial nudity in advertising.

Greek Orthodox Church leader Archbishop Christodoulos called for people to "pray for the young kids" on the shows and urged followers to "turn off our sets".

Separately, authorities in Turkey on Thursday ordered a channel off the air for six days for broadcasting a Big Brother-like show deemed offensive to traditional family values.

See also:

05 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
Bother for Greek Big Brother
23 Mar 02 | Europe
Greece's Big Brother row
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