‘Big Brother’ cleans up its act

Catholic fears for naught over latest reality skein

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s first home-produced reality show, “Big Brother,” bowed on Televisa’s Canal 2 to high ratings — and no sign of the sexy scenes feared by the Catholic church and conservative pressure groups fighting to keep the show off the air.

According to the web, national ratings rocketed 74% to 24 points for the two-hour opener that went out at 8 p.m. March 3. Share also surged by more than half to 37%.

This will be good news to advertisers who defied pressure to boycott the show.

The 12 clean-cut contestants, chosen from 150,000 applicants, appeared nervous but happy as they introduced themselves ahead of what, for the winner, will be 106 days inside the “Big Brother” house at a secret location outside Mexico City.

“Big Brother” now airs weekdays at 8.30 p.m. on Canal 5, Televisa’s third network.

The campaign against the show, a co-production with Dutch format creators Endemol, has been spearheaded by A Favor de Lo Mejor (In Favor of the Best), a pressure group that includes food giant Bimbo, one of Mexico’s most Catholic companies.

A Bimbo spokesman refused to confirm whether it would boycott “Big Brother,” saying it would follow A Favor’s recommendations.

In a television interview before the show’s launch, A Favor prexy Francisco Gonzalez Garza accused “Big Brother” of being “low quality and empty.”

“We don’t need to respond to these attacks. The critics make themselves look ridiculous,” a Televisa exec tells Variety. “Modern Mexico is much more open than they think.”

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