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Berlin Gov’t Halts Childbirth Show

BAFTA-winning format endangers privacy rights, says senator

BERLINShine’s maternity docu-series “One Born Every Minute” may have won a BAFTA in the U.K., but in Germany the format might get the boot because authorities claim it breaches the privacy rights of newborns.


Known here as “Babyboom — Willkommen im Leben” but already dubbed “Baby Big Brother” by local media, the show uses automatic cameras on a hospital maternity ward to follow soon-to-be mothers and the births of their children.


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


Shine Germany began shooting “Babyboom” for RTL Television mid-February at a Berlin clinic run by Vivantes, a state-owned hospital group. It pulled the plug on the show this week, claiming it violates the privacy rights of babies spotlighted in the format.


Mario Czaja, Berlin’s health senator, told local media, “Even if the mothers and families have agreed to be filmed for the show, the child will still have to deal with the fact that he’ll one day be confronted with the video recording. The private life and personal rights of the child are in danger.”


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


RTL spokeswoman Anke Eickmeyer expects the show to resume filming, adding that Shine Germany invited Czaja on Wednesday to better inform himself about the production. “We assume that any outstanding issues can be resolved in a personal conversation and that filming can continue thereafter.”


Vivantes officials have also expressed bewilderment at the outrage, adding that they remain convinced of the reputability of “Babyboom.”


It’s not the first time German politicos have taken issue with TV reality shows. “Big Brother,” “Fear Factor,” “Baby Borrowers” and “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here” have received their share of criticism for perceived exploitation and violations of human dignity.


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