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Listen to the latest editionHomepage of The Media Show, Radio4's weekly look at the media.  Wednesday 1.30pm.

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Send us your comments and reactions to issues raised by the latest edition.

4 February 2009

Andrew Neil and Rupert Murdoch launch Sky, February 5th 1989.
Steve Hewlett examines whether children are exploited in reality TV programmes, debates whether the press should operate under greater restrictions during a financial crisis and on the eve of Sky's 20th Anniversary, talks to Andrew Neil about launching the channel alongside Rupert Murdoch back in 1989.

Children and Reality TV

Boys and Girls Alone, Channel 4‘Boys and Girls Alone’ a documentary in which ten boys and ten girls aged between eight and eleven live without their parents for two weeks, was aired for the first time last night on Channel 4. It has been criticised for exploiting children.  Steve is joined by Commissioning Editor at Channel 4, Dominique Walker, and Eileen Hayes who is chair of the Media and Parenting Group.
The next edition of Boys and Girls Alone is on Channel 4 on Tuesday 10th February at 9pm.

Role of the Press in the Banking Crisis

Financial CrisisThe Treasury Select Committee is taking evidence this afternoon about the role of the press in the banking crisis and whether the media should operate under any form of reporting restrictions during periods of market turbulence. But are such restrictions really necessary? Steve is joined by Angela Knight, chief executive of the British Bankers Association and former editor of The Sunday Telegraph, Patience Wheatcroft.

20 Year Anniversary of Sky

Andrew Neil and Rupert Murdoch in 1989 at the launch of SkyTwenty years ago tomorrow, Sky television was launched. Steve talks to Andrew Neil who launched the channel along with Rupert Murdoch back in February 1989 and media commentator Matthew Horsman, author of 'Sky High: The Inside Story of BSkyB'.

Comments on Today's Programme

Children and Reality TV:
What a sad reflection on society that thousands of calls and complaints can be made about Jonathan Ross and the phone incident, but apparently its ok to put children through this style of fly-on-the-wall big brother docu-soap. This borders on child neglect / cruelty. Foster carers and adopters who suggested they might do this with a child would be struck off any local authority registers. Shame on C4, Shame on parents for letting this happen.
David Grant 

The Channel Four programme 'Boys And Girls Alone'has provoked accusations of child exploitation and breaching of Ofcom regulations concerning the filming of under-18s. It is interesting that there has never been such a reaction to Channel Four's successful reality series 'Wife Swap'.In this programme very young children are deliberately separated from their mothers for a week , placed for long periods of time in the care of a total stranger and frequently filmed in states of real distress and bewilderment.Toddlers are forced to witness the agressive verbal abuse which often occurs between their fathers and the new 'wife' , and are bullied into behaviours and routines they are unprepared for. The programme makers deliberately choose contributors who will guarantee volatile scenarios as these drive ratings. However, the emotional distress caused to the young children being filmed seems to be of little concern. When are these cynical production teams going to start really thinking about the feelings and rights of children? I think Ofcom should take a much tougher position on this issue.
Kate Potter

"We wanted to see how children behaved..." etc says the Channel 4 apologist. Short pithy word you probably can't broadcast on Radio 4 to that. They want a big audience to watch their latest exploitative, damaging idea. The cycnicism radiated through every sincere-sounding word she said.Not only will I not be watching it, it's enough to put me off watching Channel 4 at all - which does occasionally produce something worth watching. It would be a sacrifice worth making if I thought it would change their policy.
Richard York

I hope that some lawyers will get their act together, represent the children and sue the pants off the parents and the programme-makers for child ause

Have only just listened to last week's podcast, so sorry for the delayed reaction. You said Sky pioneered PVRs - why does no one ever give TiVo proper credit? I know several friends who had this before Sky+ was invented, presumably to catch up.
A Keys

Ironic that after weeks of BBC self-flagellation, TMS now issues a paean of praise to Sky TV. As one of those who has never signed up for it, let me say that are many of us who continue to find it bland and inconsequential. Any chance of the critics of Sky getting the airtime on the show commonly accorded the opponents of the BBC?
Bob Davis

Financial Reporting:
Whilst the discussion is on whether the media went too far I remember in one of my other podcasts where they reported on a scandal where financial journalists, in order to maintain their relationship with a particular company, hid how bad its figures were and, consequently, were in the firing line when it crashed. I can't remember whether it was Radio New Zealand National's Mediawatch podcast or ABC Radio National's Media show (now discontinued).

The interrogation of journalists by politicians over their reports on the financial crisis was alarming, ludicrous and sinister. The Treasury Select Committee should have tackled the grievous faults of banks and their poor regulation long before the ship hit the iceberg. Instead,they're clinging to the sinking wreck, trying to blame those who sent out the distress signals. As a journalist, who has also been an elected politician (ex Scottish Parliament) I know something of both sides.I'd still put what remains of my money on journalism, despite its faults, being our best hope of exposure of anything. Yet now the banking crisis is being twisted into another attempt to shoot the messenger.
Dorothy-Grace Elder

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The Media Show

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Previous Programmes

1 October 2008
Andy Burnham on public service broadcasting

8 October 2008
Michael Grade on ITV
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Lionel Barber and the FT

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Dr Tanya Byron on Kids TV
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Prince Harry, Gaza, Persian TV and iPlayer
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Ofcom's PSB Review, Ross' return and British News
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Sir Michael Lyons, Hutton Report and New Nation
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Dawn Airey, Disability on TV and Facebook
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25 March 2009
Future of Journalism, Obama, Radio Caroline

Steve Hewlett

Steve Hewlett

Steve Hewlett is a Guardian Columnist and broadcasting consultant. He is visiting Professor of Journalism and Broadcast policy at Salford University and a fellow of the Royal Television Society.

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