http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/298814

Op-Ed: Mother on live TV show told that missing daughter found dead

Posted Oct 11, 2010 by Michael Cosgrove
The mother of a missing teenage girl learned on a live Italian TV reality show that her daughter had been found dead and that her brother-in-law had confessed to murdering her. Who is to blame for this obscene spectacle?
Daughter s death revealed on reality TV.
Daughter's death revealed on reality TV.
AlJazeera
Sarah Scazzi, aged 15, disappeared on August 26 whilst on her way to her uncle’s house in Avetrana, in southern Italy, and a huge manhunt was mounted to find her, without success.
Without success that is, until the day recently that her mother, Concetta, went to participate in a live TV reality program about missing persons - Chi l'ha visto - which was being recorded in her brother-in-law’s home for national TV station the RAI.
The show’s presenter interrupted the ongoing discussion to inform her that reports were coming in saying that her daughter’s body may have been found. Shortly afterwards, the shocked mother received confirmation in a phone call from police that Sarah’s body had been discovered and that the uncle was being charged with her murder. All this on live TV.
The cameras kept rolling despite the fact that she was obviously in a state of shock, and she left the program several minutes later, presumably when she felt she had the force to do so.
She later learned that Sarah’s body had been discovered in a water tank to which her brother-in-law had led police. He said he had strangled her because she had refused to have sex with him. She was buried yesterday.
The decision to tell her the news was instantly and strongly criticized by many viewers and the press.
But is the TV show the only one to blame here? It was learned later that as the story broke the show’s viewer ratings jumped by 40% in the space of a couple of minutes.
Who were those millions of people who went to watch this ghoulish spectacle? What were they expecting to see? They were expecting to see, of course, a woman in shock having learned of the murder of her daughter only instants earlier in the very home of her alleged killer, a member of her family.
It could be argued that this show – indeed all TV reality shows – are no more than the reflection of what the viewing public wants to see. They are therefore legitimate, unless we are prepared to legislate for their interdiction. I’m not sure that banning shows ‘for the public good’ is necessarily a healthy precedent. It could be abused.
No, the viewers, ordinary people, got what they wanted.
This says a lot more about our sick society than it does about TV reality shows.
May it serve as a lesson to those who watch them.