MTV Canada defends 'Jersey Shore'

Tells officials cast has 'unscripted forms of conversation'

TORONTO – "Jersey Shore" fans may see on-screen tantrums, hissy fits and even fisticuffs.
But MTV Canada insists Snooki and her housemates are just dishing with "unscripted forms of conversation."
So the Canadian broadcaster of "Jersey Shore" recently told the country's TV watchdog after being questioned whether the U.S. reality series and its abrasive cast conforms to MTV Canada's original all-talk programming format (HR, Sept. 30).
Kevin Goldstein, vp of regulatory affairs for CTVglobemedia, the parent of MTV Canada, in an Aug. 27 letter to the CRTC said the MTV series "documents the private discussions of a group of young New Jersey residents as they navigate issues affecting their lives, including, but not limited to, dating, careers and parties."
Not exactly what the description for "Jersey Shore" usually says, but CTVglobmedia insists the reality series encourages young Canadians to take to social media sites and MTV's show page to talk about the series.
"MTV drives this discussion by soliciting comments and providing forums where our audience can freely discuss both the controversial elements associated with Jersey Shore as well as the fun and free lifestyle the show endorses," Goldstein told his CRTC questioners.
The CRTC has other broadcasters arguing they haven't veered off their original license mandates with their most popular programming.
That includes Canwest Global Communications Corp., which was asked to explain why TVTropolis, a cable channel for adults over 50 years of age, airs younger-skewing shows like "Project Runway Canada" and "Last 10 Pounds Boot Camp."
Because seniors like to see skinny women strutting on the catwalk, or the obese sweat and grunt to release their inner-model, apparently.
Canwest Global, in an August 16 response to the CRTC, pointed to BBM Canada PPM data indicating that 15% of all Canadians in the 50+ demo watched "Project Runway Canada" on TVtropolis between January 1 and August 7 this year.
And 8% of Canadians in the 50+ demo watched "The Last 10 Pounds Bootcamp" during the same period.
"We submit that these observed results, while perhaps surprising at first blush, demonstrate the raw appeal of these shows to the Adult 50+ demographic as required," Charlotte Bell senior vp of regulatory and government affairs at Canwest Television LP, said in the letter.
Don't judge a book by its cover, Bell added, as she pointed to popular U.S. shows with surprisingly elderly audiences.
These included shows like CBS' "NCIS" and ABC's Dancing With the Stars," each with an apparent median viewership of 57 years, and CBS' "The Good Wife" with a median viewership of 58 years.
Rogers Media, in its August 18 written response to the CRTC, took a different tack and admitted it had indeed strayed with its G4 channel from an original mandate to air computer and Internet-related programming as it rode the boom and bust.
"Our service was conceptualized in the late 1990s, the era of the technology boom. It was the time of the dot-com millionaires, and audiences were very interested in learning more about the impact and potential of the Internet," Susan Wheeler, vp of regulatory affairs at Rogers Media, told the regulator.
Then the technology boom became the Internet bubble, and finally the Internet bust.
"We strongly believe that G4 has effectively adapted to this new reality, and that our programming strategy reflects the emerging interests of our viewers," Wheeler added, namely magazine shows about digital content and lifestyle issues.
But what about NBC's "The Office," which the CRTC cited as a not especially tech-savvy series.
Not so, argued Wheeler. The U.S. sitcom/parody series has G4's young demo downloading, streaming and tweeting "The Office" on-line.
"As such, it ['The Office'] falls squarely within the type of programming that appeals to G4's e-generation' target demographic and in that context fits squarely within its nature of service," Wheeler added.
The CRTC will consider the written responses from the broadcasters at upcoming license renewal hearings.