The Ten
Network’s decision to pull the tacky Big Brother Adults Only program was in
direct response to the opportunistic posturing of conservative federal government backbenchers, Trish Draper and Paul Neville.

the smutty Uncut version, this year’s AO version
was heavily edited and monitored by Ten, so much so that the number of
complaints received by the network is supposed to have been fewer than
ten. But sensing another opportunity after moaning last year, the two
raised questions about the program in Canberra last week in the
Coalition partyroom.

and Draper, who have been critical of Big Brother in the past, suggested that
ACMA, the federal regulator of TV, should be given powers to preview programs
such as Big BrotherAO. Trish
Draper, we might remember, had to repay thousands of dollars after taking her then
boyfriend on a taxpayer financed trip overseas several years ago. That story was
broken by Seven Network’s Today Tonight in Adelaide.

Ten said in a statement
on Friday “Ten’s decision to end Big BrotherAdults
early does not affect any other Big Brother program; Big Brother – Adults
is a single, one-hour-a-week show within the
franchise.” It continued:

We are confident
the show has complied with the Television Industry Code of Practice, and we have
met all our undertakings. However, questions continue
to be raised as to whether the show should be on
air. We did not see that
situation changing, regardless of how we treated the program, and that
uncertainty was putting unfair pressure on our
team. We have therefore
decided the responsible and practical thing to do was conclude the show a few
weeks early. We thank the Adults Only loyal audience of nearly 1m viewers each

What is
odd is that the program has been on air for more than two months and it has
taken Draper and Neville this long to discover that it is essentially trash
TV. Ten,
though, only has itself to blame. After the kerfuffle
of last year’s uncut version, to go down the Adults Only route was inviting
trouble, especially with the network copping a minor monstering from the old Australian Broadcasting Authority
(ABA). In
potentially placing its licence at risk or copping
some restriction from a regulator responding to political pressure from a couple
of prudes (who didn’t have to watch), Ten took an unacceptable

Ten says the audience was 916,000, down from just over a million
for the tacky Uncut show last year. But the
program did increase Ten’s share of its target 16 to 39 group: around 50% of the audience each week was in
that demographic and that was what Ten was after. But what’s
more important, a few smutty bits from Big Brother and trying to use as much of
the expensive vision as possible, or the TV licence
and the absence of any regulatory intervention? It’s a

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey