Be it "Deutschland sucht den Superstar” (Germany’s got Talent), „Germany's next Topmodel“ or "Erwachsen auf Probe” (Adult on Trial): So-called "reality shows" convey supposed real life to viewers and lend brief popularity to participants. These entertainment formats turn into a stage for prominent actions impacting directly or indirectly on the everyday life of people. Real events are copied or presented in brief episodes. Reality shows contain elements of personalisation, emotion, intimacy, drama and staging. Participants in the focus of the format are usually no celebrities; the broadcasts often pretend to cover events live. What matters most is the individual behaviour of participants as well as stress in relationships in an artificial situation which is isolated from the outside world.

In several instances, the KJM found that reality shows violated the provisions concerning the protection of minors. For several episodes of "Deutschland sucht den Superstar" a potentially impairing effect on children below the age of 12 years could not be excluded due to the pejorative attitude of the jury and the editorial design of the casting performances by the TV broadcaster RTL which was aimed at deliberately exposing candidates to ridicule.

But even if - as was the case for "Erwachsen auf Probe" - TV broadcasts did not violate the legislation in force, it is clear that those responsible for TV broadcasts need to act in a careful, sensitive and responsible manner. The KJM therefore criticised the concept and the production conditions of the format "Erwachsen auf Probe" in which four young couples live through a test phase as young parents and experience caring for children of various ages, ranging from babies to teenagers. The KJM held that very young babies were used for dramaturgic effects and the young participants - on the pretext of a superficial and allegedly educational objective – were exposed to shocking realities. They were watched and controlled by educators and so-called experts, but were not given any genuine, comprehensive help, be it from persons of trust from their familiar environment. In the opinion of the KJM, the format "Erwachsen auf Probe" is neither valuable from an educational point of view, nor is there any educational justification for the format.

Breaches of taboos as shown on TV and experienced by audiences exert a strain on the cohesion of society living together. Programme producers on occasion neglect the moral and ethical dimensions - or deliberately pose challenges for society to react to. Against this, society needs to discuss values.

Literature (in German)

  • Lücke, Stephanie (2002): Real Life Soaps. Ein neues Genre des Reality-TV. Münster.
  • Faulstich, Werner (2008): Grundkurs Fernsehanalyse. Paderborn.
  • Lünenborg, Margreth, Dirk Martens, Tobias Köhler, Claudia Töpper:
    Skandalisierung im Fernsehen. Strategien, Erscheinungsformen und Rezeption von Reality TV Formaten. Berlin (Vistas) 2011. Schriftenreihe Medienforschung der Landesanstalt für Medien NRW (LfM), Band 65.