NMHH: Real World-Barometer for Awareness of Disturbing Content

Published: 21 November 2016


The profanity record is held by the September 20 episode of Real World 8 (Való Világ) with 113 obscenities in one hour – as found by an investigation conducted by the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) which analyses the popular reality show aired on RTL 2 in a quantitative manner. Similar to previous seasons, this series includes much sexuality, obscene language, smoking, alcohol consumption, the statistics of which are published on the website every week in order to draw attention to the negative effects of harmful content and sound media consumption habits – especially today, on World Television Day.

What is the aim of the barometer?

The Authority is apprehensive about serial airing of objectionable scenes especially due to the vulnerability of minors vis-à-vis harmful content, even if no laws are being broken. Real World 8 – and reality TV in general – this is especially important because the program is most popular in the 13–17 years age group. The “RW-barometer” focusing solely on the evening program rates the eighth series of the reality show which started on August 27 and is expected to run until February of next year on RTL 2, in six categories (based on experiences of earlier studies): sexuality, nakedness appearing in a sexual context, frequency of profane expressions, negative examples of smoking and direct and indirect alcohol consumption.

The aim of the Authority with the barometer is to protect youth by pointing beyond the official proceedings and presenting the frequent appearance of morally questionable content, and to noticeably demonstrate how their frequency moves hand in hand with audience viewing figures. The analysis of the harmful elements in the program is based on quantitative methods, so it enables finding any changes and constant comparison as well.

How much questionable content does the RW8 audience meet?

Obscene language is decidedly typical of the program series Real World powered by Big Brother, but so far there has also been smoking in every broadcast and it is rare not to have alcohol consumption and sexual content. Until the beginning of November, 20 September held the record for vulgar speech, when NMHH registered 113 cases of profanity within one broadcast. The record for cigarette smoking is 23 (October 11), and the second day (August 28) was top in alcohol consumption when it appeared in 42 scenes. We cannot call either the Villa-residents or the editors too bashful, as nudity appeared 22 times as early as the second day. The record of erotic, sexual content is 29 (September 18).

Methodology of the study

The analysis unit used in the study is the scene transmitting the harmful behaviour patterns. The scenes are registered as many times as the program editor makes them appear in the summary of the program. The data published by weekly results is calculated by averaging the daily number of scenes, that is, occurrences. Profanity is the only problematic content where a different method is used, as the number of vulgar, profane expressions is easy to count. In this case, an analysis unit is not the number of scenes, but each time an obscenity is audible. The classification of profane expressions is done based on the valid statutory system of criteria of age-limit categories and the recommendation of the Media Council.

The study draws together the appearance of sexuality and nudity in light of the close correlation between the two. The appearance of sexuality includes both visual and verbal representations thereof, therefore verbal references to sexuality or sexual activity are also included in the number of registered scenes.

The age-limit circle is not for decorating the screen but important information for the viewer

On this 20th World Television Day, the NMHH would like to draw attention to the fact that beyond free access to media content, the remote control is within reach of TV audiences, that is, they have the right to make decisions and freely choose programs and also to avoid harmful content. The UN initiated that on this day TV companies should mention more elevated topics in their programs, such as peace, cooperation or development.

Adults are supported in their responsibility of program selection by the age limit circles that appear on the screen with all television programs, cinema films, as well as computer or online games or packaging informing them of the age group that any given media content is suitable for.

This is especially important when the provider of the Real World program is otherwise under Luxembourg jurisdiction and the Media Council can only act against a media provider registered in a foreign jurisdiction if certain stringent conditions are met. Since the program was moved to RTL 2, the Media Council has turned to the European authorities four times, also partly due to audience notification complaining about objectionable content.

For the barometers regarding the programs please see: http://adattar.nmhh.hu/vv/vv8.