Swedish TV rethinks reality shows

Performing artists everywhere have a tendency to pitch in when they're needed, and the Swedes are no different: just a week after the tsunami, Carola and a pile of other stars were ready to give what they could.

Of course, the stars weren’t on their way to the site of the disaster to lift boxes: they were on television, singing their hearts out – and it worked, better than anyone had expected.

Swedish Television’s broadcast was led by personalities Claes Elfsberg and Kattis Ahlström, and TV4’s broadcast was led by Petra Nordlund. The king and queen and prime minister Göran Persson shuttled back and forth to make appearances on both broadcasts, and representatives from charity organizations and the Swedish Church explained to audiences the nature of the catastrophe.

TV4 had reporter Elisabet Frerot live from Sri Lanka, and both broadcasts had lots of tasteful but crowd-pleasing entertainment.

As Swedish Television’s Aina Bergvall explained, “We wanted to have artists that could speak to a broad public – the point was that people should donate money – so we blended classic and jazz with artists that were a little more ‘pop’.”

Their strategy proved more effective than anyone had imagined, and the productions, put together in about three days, brought in hundreds of millions of crowns.

By the end of the night on January 1 Swedish Television’s live broadcast had brought in about 193 million crowns, and TV4’s broadcast brought in 140 million. No televised fundraising effort has ever done so well in Sweden.

Dagens Nyheter reported that when Swedish Television’s telephone line for donations was publicized at 6 p.m. on new year’s eve, 4.8 million crowns came pouring in 24 hours before the fundraising broadcast even began – and the Swedish people are still donating.

A few children’s shows and crime dramas were shunted aside to make room for the benefit programmes, and Swedish Radio dropped some light programming in favor of the news.

But the catastrophe has reached deep into the heart of Swedish broadcasting: yes, even the reality TV shows have been affected.

TV3’s “Robinson VIP”, which was slated to begin in January, has been postponed due to concerns about the suitability of a beach-paradise program just now.

The making of “Beach Club Goa,” also (obviously) planned to take place on a beach, is going ahead as planned but with some changes – it will “include some kind of collection for the victims of the catastrophe,” according to Göteborgs-Posten.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Göteborgs-Posten