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Last Updated: Friday, 20 June, 2003, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
British TV 'too vulgar', says report
Tania from Big Brother
Big Brother features "rather ignorant people", the report said
British television features too much on reality TV, vulgarity and reliance on celebrities, a study given to the House of Lords has said.

The report, commissioned by the Campaign for Quality Television (CQT) singled out Big Brother creator Peter Bazalgette for criticism.

He was accused by its author, media academic Professor Michael Tracey, of trying to "pass off the stuff of the vulgate" as high art.

The report also issued a warning about the government's proposals over media ownership for its Communications Bill.

Plans within the bill to relax media ownership laws were "unworkable and dangerous", according to the professor.

The cast of Changing Rooms with Barker (centre)
Changing Rooms was slated for "endlessly" repeating the same idea
The House of Lords is to debate the bill next week.

Prof Tracey also passed verdict on Channel 4's surveillance gameshow Big Brother, saying it "presents rather ignorant people as though they were players in a Shakespearean drama".

And of BBC One makeover show Changing Rooms, which was also brought to screens by Mr Bazalgette, he said: "It's not so much the problem with the show but the endless replication of the same idea."

But Peter Bazalgette's company Endemol UK told the Independent that he "rejected the criticisms made in the essay".

He also reportedly told Broadcasting magazine that the report "lacked any statistical analysis to demonstrate television was being dumbed down", while Channel 4 also rejected the criticisms.

Broadcasting watch

Prof Tracey is a former a former head of the Broadcasting Research Unit who now runs the University of Colorado's research centre.

He said in his report: "What is being renounced are ways of thinking about the purposes of broadcasting, and through that, the character of the society we wish to have in place."

He added that people "often forget" that critically acclaimed US TV shows The Sopranos and Six Feet Under" are made by HBO, which is a high-premium cable channel.

He described HBO as "the nearest thing the Americans have to public-service broadcasting".

A spokeswoman for the CQT told BBC News Online it commissioned the "think piece" as part of its ongoing look at changes in broadcasting.

It is funded by between 300 and 400 "individuals who are members of the broadcasting industry" as well as charitable trusts, the CQT said.

The professor's report was funded by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust.

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