The Ten Network yesterday dumped its Big Brother: Adults Only series, just one day after being told by Coalition MPs the steamy show was damaging the network’s push for key media reforms.
Network Ten executive chairman Nick Falloon and chief executive Grant Blackley received an ear-bashing in Canberra this week while lobbying for law changes that would drive up the potential sale price of the Canadian-controlled company.
Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce said yesterday he harangued the executives over Big Brother on Thursday in a meeting arranged by Ten to argue the network’s case for media reform.
“I listened to what they had to say then told them in no uncertain terms that they were doing themselves no favors arguing for reforms while Big Brother was still on the air,” Senator Joyce told The Weekend Australian.
Mr Joyce said the delegation argued the adults-only version, screened at 9.40pm on Mondays, had been sanitised after complaints about last year’s series.
“And I said, ‘The other night you had simulated anal sex on the TV just three hours after The Simpsons‘,” Senator Joyce said. “Tell me how I explain that to my daughter.”
It is understood Communications Minister Helen Coonan, who has put together the proposed media reforms, also told Mr Falloon many MPs were complaining about the show.
Ten said yesterday it had dropped the series, saying there were only “three or four episodes” left to run.
“Questions continue to be raised as to whether the show should be on air,” a Ten statement said. “We did not see that situation changing, regardless of how we treated the program, and that uncertainty was putting unfair pressure on our team.”
Asked whether the show was dropped due to the push for reforms, a Ten spokeswoman said: “This has come from us looking at a range of issues.”
Ten owner CanWest, a Canadian media company, said in its submission on media reforms to Senator Coonan that plans to wind back foreign and cross-media ownership would enable the industry to increase its profits.
A change in ownership laws would allow more companies to attempt to buy Ten, driving up its price.
The Ten network has also received complaints about Big Brother from the Coalition’s Classifications Issues backbench committee.
The committee is demanding the Australian Communications and Media Authority be given wider powers to patrol content on free-to-air television and respond to public complaints.
During Tuesday’s partyroom meeting, committee chair Trish Draper and Nationals MP Paul Neville complained directly to John Howard about Big Brother.
Mr Neville is an influential member of the backbench communications committee closely scrutinising proposals for media reform.
Ms Draper and Senator Joyce were last night pleased with Ten‘s decision to scrap the adults-only version of Big Brother.
Senator Joyce said the Ten delegation had remained largely silent during his spray on Thursday. “They just sat there sheepishly, looking around for the nearest exit,” he said.
Update: Big Brother 2008 Promo