Kiss kiss, bang bang, Amen

Sex, violence, God rule TV

Sex and violence on TV have become more explicit over the past year while God is omnipresent, according to a report on global TV trends released Thursday by audience research org Mediametrie.

The U.S.’s “Sleeper Cell,” which airs on Showtime, and new Spanish web Cuatro’s “Genesis, en el mente del asesino,” featuring closeups of grotesque crime scenes that outdo the already graphic violence seen on Spanish schedules, were cited as examples of TV getting nastier.

HBO’s Mormon polygamy-themed “Big Love” and “Alles ausser sex,” a German “Sex and the City” clone, pushed the envelope on how the box portrays relationships.

But broadcasters can’t count on shock value to attract and hold audiences. “Competition is so fierce that dialogue and storylines have to be up to scratch, as these examples show,” said Sheily Lemon, consultant at Paris-based Intl. Media Consultants Associated, co-host of the “New on the Air” presentation by Mediametrie.

Most chuckles at Thursday’s presentation were garnered by a clutch of faith-themed reality skeins.

In Holland’s “Star Academy”-style “Preek van het jaar” (Sermon of the Year), priests perform sermons before a panel of critics. A&E’s “God or the Girl” follows four young men as they choose between girlfriends (or the possibility of such) and the celibate life of a Catholic priest.

Some 1,800 new fiction, factual and entertainment shows have launched since September in the major European countries plus U.S. and Australia, NOTA’s survey territories.

As usual, the U.K. was the most innovative, launching 354 programs, down on last year’s 407.

New shows in France — including American series — were up 25% to 285, while in Spain the number shot up from 85 in 2004-05 to 180.

In the U.S. the number was a more modest 152, partly because American seasons have more episodes than their European counterparts, leading to slower turnover. Also, the survey does not take telepics into account.

Drama occupied the top ratings slot so far this year everywhere but Australia, where reality skein “Thank God You’re Here” has been a surprise audience booster for the Ten net, upping ratings for the time from an average 18% to 25%. Show sends celebs into surprise situations that require them to think on their feet.

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