This is even worse when reality shows crowd the schedules of public service broadcasters.
Stations such as the BBC in the UK, France Télévisions, or Rai in Italy have a duty to inform and educate the public.
In these programmes we see people like us faced with unusual situations.
That makes us think about what we would do in their place, and about what principles should govern human behaviour.
Reality shows are also popular because they exploit new technology so that millions of people can participate in the programme – typically by voting.
Reality TV is dishonest – it pretends to show “reality” but it actually distorts the truth to suit the programme makers.These programmes suggest that anyone can become famous just by getting on TV and “being themselves”, without working hard or having any particular talent.Kids who watch these shows will get the idea that they don’t need to study hard in school, or train hard for a regular job. Once upon a time there were only a few television channels, and everybody watched the same few programmes.Finally the makers film their victims for hundreds of hours from all angles, but only show the most dramatic parts.Selective editing may be used to create “storylines” and so further manipulate the truth of what happened.TV bosses like them because they are cheap compared to putting out shows with proper scripts, actors, musicians, etc.Even if they are popular, that doesn’t make them good programmes.Big reality TV programmes have brought that sense of shared experience back, as viewers from all social groups follow the twists and turns of each series together.Reality shows are corrupting as they rely on humiliation and conflict to create excitement.It just means that some people have no taste and will watch any old rubbish.Broadcasters should be aiming at excellence, giving their viewers quality programmes which expand their cultural horizons.