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Herald on Sunday Editorial: The television reality is... we just love crap

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Jason Kerrison, Rachel Hunter and Ali Campbell are the judges for the first season of 'New Zealand's Got Talent'. Photo / Supplied
Jason Kerrison, Rachel Hunter and Ali Campbell are the judges for the first season of 'New Zealand's Got Talent'. Photo / Supplied

Television snobs who bemoan the lack of quality shows on our screens must be apoplectic in front of their high-definition TVs right now.

They've just had to sit through eight or so weeks of home renovation as the couples on TV3's The Block battled it out; tonight the grand-daddy of reality TV shows opens when TV One premieres New Zealand's Got Talent; and you can bet the poison darts will be flying later in the week when the much-hyped fly-on-the-wall show The Ridges makes its screen debut.

Anyone doubting the success of these types of programmes will have been put firmly in their place on Friday when MediaWorks' publicists released the viewing figures for The Block's auction finale. More than one million Kiwis tuned in. Interest in the show, or should that be the people on it, was reflected in mainstream media, both online and in print, who followed the contestants' exploits closely. How could it be otherwise when something like 10,000 people blocked the streets trying to get a glimpse inside the four houses?

Further evidence comes today in our story on the Coronation St saga, where TV One claims its move to drop the Brit soap on Saturday nights for the low-rent food show Come Dine With Me has seen the audience surge in the key 25-54 demographic by 37 per cent.

We are, it seems, addicted to crap.

High-brow viewers suffered a significant loss in June when, after five years of commercial-free programming, TVNZ7 was shut down. Unless people have Sky Television and access to the world's best documentary and drama shows, their only hope is Maori Television, which continues to engage and speak to its audience in a way that mainstream television once used to.

The rest of us, it appears, are happy with mindless fluff.

For the two main broadcasters, it is a no-contest. They have to play shows that people watch and advertisers want to be aligned with.

Is there any point in those unhappy with this moaning? No. It's a numbers game.

Until people vote with their remotes, we are stuck with reality TV.

Maybe dancing donkeys (tonight) and posh prancing (The Ridges) will shake us awake. But we doubt it.

- Herald on Sunday

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