RTL forced to shutter ‘Babyboom’

Broadcaster cites government indecision


RTL Television has pulled the plug on its local version of Shine’s maternity docu-series “One Born Every Minute” after the Berlin state government failed to decide on the future of the show.

Known here as “Babyboom — willkommen im leben,” the show uses automatic cameras at a hospital maternity ward to follow soon-to-be mothers and the births of their children.

Mario Czaja, Berlin’s health senator, stopped production of the show last month, arguing that the private lives and personal rights of the children spotlighted were “in danger.”

Partnering with RTL, Shine Germany began shooting “Babyboom” last month at a Berlin clinic run by Vivantes, a state-owned hospital group, which led to the government’s involvement.

The government suspended the agreement between RTL and Vivantes until March 20, when the hospital group’s supervisory board was to decide on the matter.

RTL said Friday, however, that it had shut down production in view of the high daily costs of maintaining an inert production and the fact that a number of pregnant women featured on the show had given birth, adding that it simply could not wait for the board meeting.

RTL execs had hoped the issue would be resolved at the Berlin Senate on March 5, but pols failed to agree.

RTL spokesman Christian Koerner said, “We are very sorry that it was not possible for the state of Berlin to make a decision within the time frame that we needed for the continuation of production. We had notified those responsible that births cannot be easily postponed.”

Koerner added, “The simple and rather common principle that one should first listen to all sides, would have made an internationally successful and award-winning documentary about one of the most wonderful topics in the world possible and prevented unnecessary difficulties.”

The BAFTA-winning format is in its fourth season on Blighty’s Channel 4 and has been adapted in the U.S., where it aired on Lifetime, as well as in France and Spain.

German pols have taken issue with TV reality shows in the past, blasting “Big Brother,” “Fear Factor,” “Baby Borrowers” and “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here” for perceived exploitation and violations of human dignity.

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