Television regulators plan to limit the amount of reality programming to just seven hours a week in an effort to increase the amount of high-quality TV, according to a policy paper approved by the Second Authority for Television and Radio.
The paper, written by the authority’s director general, Shai Babad, said the number of hours devoted to reality or entertainment shows would be cut by about a third.
For every hour of such programming, including singing competitions and other shows featuring non-actors, broadcasters would be required to air what the authority defines as “quality television” in prime time.
“In the recent months since I entered my position, the authority has worked hard to prepare a plan for policy change to truly improve the diverse world of content broadcast today on commercial television,” said Babad, saying the authority has the power to make the changes but has failed to do so because of a lack of clear guidelines.
The loss of programming hours for reality shows will hurt the broadcasters. The shows with the highest ratings last week were the music competitions “Kokhav Nolad” and the Israeli version of “X Factor.”
Babad has been seeking to win the broadcasters’ cooperation for the changes, holding talks with the two Channel 2 licensees, Reshet and Keshet, as well as with Channel 10. Following the discussions, he announced that in 2014 they would reduce reality and entertainment shows by 30%-50%.
“Already in the 2014 broadcast schedule recently approved by the television committee, the broad changes that were made can be seen with an emphasis on the diverse mix [of shows] in prime time and a reduction in reality television,” Babad said.
Under the guidelines he set out, a Channel 10 documentary following the lives of “Big Brother” contestants will lose it “quality” designation as part of an overall redefinition of which shows are considered high-quality.
Channels were once limited to broadcasting six hours of reality or entertainment television per week, but in 2011 the Second Authority’s council raised the limit to 10 hours.