Group urges reality TV to promote health

Shows such as 'Survivor,' 'Big Brother' are a bad example of how to pursue good health, says Israel Cancer Association.

Big Brother contestant 370 (photo credit: Lahav Harkov)
Big Brother contestant 370
(photo credit: Lahav Harkov)
Reality TV shows such as Survivor and Big Brother provide a bad example to the public of how to pursue good health, said the Israel Cancer Association, which has complained to Channel 10 and Channel 2 but so far received no response.
ICA director-general Miri Ziv and information director Edna Peleg-Olevsky recently wrote to Channel 10 about the fact that both female and male participants in Survivor wear minimal bathing suits in the hot sun without any protection from skin cancer.
“We understand that the show is based on survival in difficult field conditions,” they wrote, “but nevertheless protective measures can be taken – because after all you are talking about survival.”
The ICA asked the TV company to ensure that the highly popular show shows the stars spending time in the shade, wearing long protective clothing, sunglasses and broad-brimmed hats and frequently applying sunscreen.
“We are certain that taking such precautions during prime time will arouse a great deal of sympathy and identification by the public and encourage them to do the same,” they wrote. “Since the current series has been filmed already, we hope that messages and recommendations on smart behavior in the sun are integrated as text in the current season,” they said, and that next year, the principles on cancer protection will be integrated into the show by the participants.
No answer has yet been received. A few years ago, the ICA tried to influence Channel 2’s wildly popular Big Brother to forbid smoking from being shown on the program, where the participants are cooped up with each other in the villa and have no contact with the outside world.
Most of the two dozen participants on the show each year have turned out to be chronic smokers, whose money allocations for food are reduced by their cigarette expenditures. Even though smoking has been prohibited at outdoor swimming pools and in offices, the law does not forbid smoking in villas and private swimming pools. However, the ICA wrote, the participants unhealthy behavior makes a bad impression.
The only response from Channel 2 was a promise to write at the beginning or end of each show that smoking is dangerous to health, but this has not yet been carried out.
“We will try again for the next season,” said Peleg-Olevsky. The producers for next season’s Big Brother have not yet received Channel 2 Authority approval because of the controversy over the giving of psychiatric drugs to some participants.