Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
Forum 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Tuesday, 31 October, 2000, 10:30 GMT
Are TV quiz prizes getting out of hand?
Are TV prizes getting out of hand? Send us your comments
Around the world millions of dollars are being given away every night on TV quiz shows.

Who Wants to be a Millionaire is captivating audiences from Helsinki to Bombay - and making some lucky contestants very rich indeed.

This week an Indian TV channel is offering huge cash prizes for a rival to Who Wants to be a Millionaire, as part of a bitter ratings battle.

In the UK, the BBC is courting controversy by boosting its cash prize on The Weakest Link to 20,000. Should public service broadcasters avoid such temptations in attempts to stop audiences drifting away to commercial rivals?

Has the level of prize money gone too far? Does it encourage greed?

This Talking Point is now closed. You can read a selection of your e-mails below.


In this day and age all's fair in love and war, and business - you would be a fool not to entertain the wandering audience with what appeals to them.
Wayne Monkman, Japan


The real crime is not TV quizzes but lotteriesQuote Here

William Smith, UK
The real crime is not TV quizzes but lotteries. What's the point in winning 20million? Why not give 20 prizes of 1million? Lotteries are taking from the poor, who have most to gain, and creating super-rich. Isn't this the opposite of what society should do?
William Smith, UK

Now in the US the BBC licence fee is peanuts compared to the monthly cable subscriptions. People need to get real as to what the licence covers and stop treating the situation as if they have a right to say how the BBC should be managed.
Graham Crawshaw, UK citizen living in US (temp)

Quite honestly as long as it's not my dollars/pounds being offered as the prize then it really doesn't bother me. I wonder how long it'll take the various producers to realise that a multi-million grand prize isn't enough to turn a bad show into a good show?
Neil Vickers, USA


The more the merrier!

Dean Starcey, London
Your correspondents who criticise Millionaire have got it wrong. Killjoys. The more the merrier!
Dean Starcey, London

Greed never has, and never will need any encouragement.
Karl Flinter, England

Greed - it can be viewed that way. However, the version we have in Australia seems to teach people to use control and to be happy with the level they reach.
Renny Willins, Australia

Although a number of TV quizzes pay out vast amounts of money to increase the popularity of their show, it seems beneficial and interesting to so many people. Although the money can be based on luck, there are so many people that would greatly benefit from the prize money and should therefore have the opportunity to try their luck in a quiz show such as "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" and better their standard of living if they are able to win.
Jodie Connor, England


It's about time we caught up with the USA where you can win a new house, decent car or even a new wife

Nicky, UK
If you can get on TV and win a million pounds, why shouldn't you? And if people happen to like watching that happen, why shouldn't they. In fact, it's about time we caught up with the USA where you can win a new house, decent car or even a new wife (!), instead of a feeble 20,000 which wouldn't even buy a house over here!
Nicky, UK

Everyone wants a chance to make easy money!! Why not?? If you know enough, and enough trivia, and if you are lucky, you just make enough money to make a dream come true!!!! That is great, and reason enough!!!!!
Maureen, USA

Why shouldn't we be able to flaunt our knowledge to win obscene amounts of money on TV? I am personally sick to death of seeing talentless sports stars belittling the fact that they are earning a paltry 50,000 per week at their clubs whilst topping up their income with personal appearances, sponsorship deals and constantly being bombarded at us in TV and print media.
At least years of learning and studying is finally getting some people greater reward then just being able to run longer, jump higher, swim faster, kick harder and being a cerebral bore. No wonder other countries are outstripping us academically.
Joe Straw, UK


The licence fee should not be used to inflate prize money

Dave, UK & NL
The licence fee should not be used to inflate prize money, and certainly not for second rate shows like "The Weakest Link". More like "The Weakest Show".
Dave, UK & NL

I really enjoy shows like 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' because, the only way one can get to a million, is to diminish the importance of the money you have won to it's real value so that you are compelled to gamble it. I think that is such a brilliant exercise for the minds of people and I find it very interesting to see who endeavours to go that route - so many are blinded by amounts with more than three noughts on the end that they don't see the advantage of taking the chance.
Brenne, UK

The BBC seems to be the only channel with anything decent on! Yes I admit I do watch 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' and who wouldn't love a million pounds! But its nice after watching the trash on ITV to come to a channel that is informative, has decent entertainment and where you don't have to get your laughs from watching people's mishaps!
Claire Stafford, UK

BBC should scrap all of their game shows which paid cash prizes to the contestants. I want my licence fee to be spent on those quality programs.
Danny, UK


Seeing people suddenly gain huge amounts of money ... will eventually devalue the importance of money

Tod, England
Seeing people suddenly gain huge amounts of money by pure luck (lottery) or by answering some pretty easy questions will eventually devalue the importance of money. We will no longer respect wealth and will begin to cultivate and value other aspects of life. The sooner the better, I say.
Tod, England

Camelot routinely pay out millions in lottery prizes - the entrants play freely. Independent TV companies pay out big prizes - they do so with money freely paid to them (advertising revenue). The BBC's source of income is not freely given - we are forced to buy a TV licence even if we don't watch the BBC, so they should not be dishing it out so generously. The BBC should be providing quality TV, not fighting a ratings war.
Tanya Smithson, England


If the cash bag is too heavy it will be too attractive to be a be a healthy competition

Albert P'Rayan, India/Rwanda
There are different types of TV quiz competitions in India. Some test the contestants' general knowledge in politics, arts, science and technology, etc. and this type of quiz competitions are conducted by professional quiz masters like Siddhardha Basu and they are of high standard and interesting, informative and educate. Viewers of these programmes are inspired by the contestants' wealth of general knowledge and awareness of the world and thrilled by quiz masters' enthusiasm and way of asking questions.
The prize money given to the winners should not be too big an amount. If the cash bag is too heavy it will be too attractive to be a be a healthy competition.
Albert P'Rayan, India/Rwanda

Just one point - the BBC is supposed to be the British Broadcasting Corporation. Can we stick to our own currency please - millions of pounds are given out. I don't want my license tax to fund people getting thousands of pounds in prizes, but the commercial stations are supposed to be businesses that make a profit. These shows have good viewing figures, so they last. I can hardly see a quiz show titled "Who wants to win 1.50" generating much excitement.
Willy Davidson, UK

If stations want to shell out the money for such shows so be it. It's not our fault that the bosses of the stations are so stupid to give out so much money.
Mark Isaacson, USA

I am sick of huge prizes being given out for trivial "achievements", such as Cilla Black's Moment of Truth. It seems in a lot of cases in the more general media the prize is inversely proportional to the difficulty - compare the pen for the first completion of the Times crossword against the 500+ for completing the one in the Sun... at the end of the day the independent TV firms are businesses and if people watch programs like Millionaire the advertising revenue makes it worthwhile. I would take exception to my BBC license fee being used to fund a huge prize.
John B, UK


One of the key reasons why Millionaire is so successful is the huge sums of money involved.

Richard Straffon, UK
Firstly, the top prize of 20,000 is almost certainly never going to be won on the Weakest Link. Prizes of roughly 6k will be more likely, due to the contestant's incompetence.
Secondly, one of the key reasons why Millionaire is so successful is the huge sums of money involved. 15 million people enjoy watching people make life-changing decisions three times a week. Without greedy contestants we wouldn't get this. So yes it encourages greed, and yes, for the sake of excellent entertaining dramatic television I want it in my quiz shows.
The BBC is being conservative giving 20,000 as a top prize. And this is a "top" prize remember!
Richard Straffon, UK

Commercial Stations can afford to pay large sums of money but the BBC should bring back something like Mastermind and use the money they are likely to pay out every week to lower the licence fee.
A Keenan, UK

Imagine the poor parents who have to shelve the massive phone bill just because the kids are aspiring to be millionaires? It is really unfair that the greed of one party (the kids and the TV channel) results in the suffering of others!
Fuad, Malaysia

I would be cross if BBC went into commercial race. Thus far it has been practically the only internationally operating quality program and producer free of the commercial manure. A supplier of a moment of fresh breath. This is a great achievement and great pleasure to us who are free of brands and anything that the excess commercialism brings along. Please keep it that way.
Mikko Toivonen, Finland


Seeing people suddenly gain huge amounts of money by pure luck (lottery) or by answering some pretty easy questions will eventually devalue the importance of money

Tod, England
Seeing people suddenly gain huge amounts of money by pure luck (lottery) or by answering some pretty easy questions will eventually devalue the importance of money. We will no longer respect wealth and will begin to cultivate and value other aspects of life. The sooner the better, I say.
Tod, England

Games shows have been around since TV began. What I feel sorry for are the people who get the money. They will be haunted by friends, relatives, and charities who they never new existed trying to get their share of that cool million.
Russ Black, USA

No, there should be no limit. Commercial shows pay their own way. The fact that you even think to ask this question shows typical British repressive control-freakery is alive and well at the BBC - just like the Government.
Andy, USA

Oh, Please! Big prizes do not encourage greed so much as reveal it. Then again, if you are smart enough to earn the big prize, more power to you.
Andrew Cox, USA

If you are against seeing people win money on TV then TV quiz prizes are getting out of hand. Some of those TV quizzes are fun, sometimes educational and often better than the other programming available, others are junk at best. I would rather see people get money for winning at a quiz show than the Dome.
John L. Alkire, UK/USA

The ITV show is financed by a premium rate phone line no doubt used by many an office worker at the company's expense. The prize fund is only a fraction of the revenue raised in this matter. If the BBC is financing large prizes by the use of licence money I for one would be quite alarmed. Come on Beeb there is so much that you do so well, do we really need to do this?
Philip levy, UK

Send us your comments:
Name:

Your E-mail Address:


Country:

Comments:

Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

23 Oct 00 | Entertainment
BBC criticised for quiz cash
23 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Who wants to lose a fortune?
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Links to other Talking Point stories