Reality television has swept America over like an epidemic. Almost every channel has some form of a reality show. This genre began in 1989 with the creation of COPS and America's Funniest Home Videos. Only three years later MTV aired the first episode of The Real World. After that, reality programming became quite popular. Numerous broadcasting companies began airing their own form of reality television. This rise in reality programming has transformed television viewing over the past 20 years.
Although not all reality programming is identical, they all share common qualities. These qualities usually consist of real everyday people put on television for their moment of fame and/or change in their present situation. In these past two decades, reality television has diverged in all different directions. Now reality television as a genre by itself is too broad to describe in detail. Therefore, in order to understand and effectively regulate reality programming, the different types of reality programming must be broken down into sub-categories. These sub-categories of reality are competitive, sitcom, popular, documentary, viral, and remake reality.
[...] Podlas describes numerous occasions where this manipulation occurs, judge on MTV‘s Surf Girls accused producers of manipulating which contestants remained on the show Project Runway contestant Wendy Pepper was a plant or at least was spared from eliminations so that she could continue her role as foil‖15 Finally, the most influential use of this collusion was committed by Mark Burnett, the producer of the first installment of Survivor. Burnett was accused of intervening and persuading contestants to vote off contestant Stacey Stillman in order to preserve another contestant Rudy Podlas Cardozo Arts & Ent. L.J. at 162-163. Id. at Boesch from being eliminated. [...]
[...] In order to inform the viewers of this false content, a disclaimer system for reality programming should be required. An article that touches on this topic describes the creation of the quiz-show statute, and the lack of protection it has over reality programming.8 The author, Kimberlianne Podlas, a professor at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, goes in depth regarding the deceptive nature of reality programming.9 She discusses reality programming‘s use of video editing, collusion between certain contestants and producers otherwise known as ―artifice or scheme‖, secret assistance to advance contestants further through the show, and causing contestants to refrain from trying to win. [...]
[...] Further, section 317 also applies to television programs. As technology progressed and television sets began emerging in almost every American household, the FCC had to enforce newly created rules regarding product placement. In the 1950s, the FCC attempted to strictly enforce product placement and subliminal advertising. In 1957, the FCC declared all cases the public is entitled to know the name of the company it is being asked to deal with, or at least, the recognized brand name of his product‖20 The FCC declared that Section 317‘s ―plain intent is to prevent a fraud being perpetrated on the listening public by letting the public know the people with whom they are dealing.‖21 FCC regulation increased in the 1950s with the Quiz Show Scandals during 1959-60, mentioned earlier in Podlas‘s article. [...]
[...] Although sitcom reality would not fall under Section 507, if the statute was amended further it could be used to control this category. Section 507 limits its enforcement to game shows that only require a contestant to use ―intellectual knowledge or intellectual skill‖. This statute should be amended to enforcing a program that requires any skill. It is arguable that game shows like Survivor and Project Runway, to use some sort of skill even if it is in regards to finding sources of survival or deciding a certain style that might appeal to judges. [...]
[...] For example, Extreme Home Makeover, plugs Sears in every episode. This is due to the fact that Sears provides most of the equipment and tools used by volunteers in order to build a new home. The same can be seen in documentary reality. For example, Man v. Wild, the host Bear Grylls plugs certain tools needed in order to survive. Of course these programs could also do without 18 advertising plugs. Nevertheless their use describes what Congress meant when it had to be ―reasonably related‖ to the programs content. [...]
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