Thursday, November 18, 2004

Big Brother Croatia Update: Standards and Standard Operational Procedure

In the end, decision of Electronic Media Council probably won't have any clearly visible effects on Big Brother Croatia apart from silencing most of the show's critics. Left-wing and liberal intellectuals who used to lambaste the show because of its "inhuman corporate commercialism" and "insulting human dignity" are now up in arms over "hypocrisy" and "bigotry" of "government bureaucrats who want to bring Croatian media into medieval times".

Those reactions had encouraging effect on some of RTL Televizija executives. Instead of shielding themselves through official spokespeople, they are giving interviews and expressing their opinions on the decision. Saša Runjić (Sasa Runjic), editor of RTL Televizija Entertainment Programme, apparently took the decision personally. In the interview for Slobodna Dalmacija he described the decision as the "attack on his own constitutional rights".

In other interviews and statements, RTL Televizija officials claim that they would follow the instructions, but that they would also "interpret them liberally" and make the content of the show "as indistinguishable as possible from the standards they are applied in movies and other TV shows being aired in that particular time slot".

Other intellectuals and media critics in Croatia warn about the decision being a dangerous precedent that could, in an essence, destroy all Croatian television. For example, if the standards applied to Big Brother are applied to all movies and television shows, Croatian viewers can forget about ever seeing classic John Ford's westerns or Casablanca on the small screen since the protagonist of those films happen to smoke, drink and engage in other activities that could be potentially harmful for children's minds.

While RTL Televizija brass is trying (and, for the most part, succeeding) to spin the latest controversy in its favour, the rank and file - those entrusted with the prosaic daily task of maintaining the show – are bothered with more earthly concerns and affected by their all-consuming and often very frustrating job. Ana Baletović (Ana Baletovic), one of the daily editors and member of 150-men team that monitors activities in House, has confessed that she had recurring dream of having a morning coffee with housemates.

Jan Štedul (Jan Stedul), daily summaries' producer, has denied that his team has ever "manipulated" with the housemates. He admitted that they used the music to "help with housemates' mood". He didn't say a word about steady supply of alcohol, though.

Mario Kovač (Mario Kovac), daily editor and the most famous of all members of Big Brother team, again used the opportunity to respond to all the critics. He stated that the housemates enjoyed living standards "which at least 50 % of Croatian population can only dream about". He also admitted that he, just like any other member of team, had favourites among housemates. He said that he tried not to be emotionally attached to the housemates and always tried to imagine the show as "a social experiment".


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