From scandal to big business: 20 years of reality TV in France


The first reality television show on French television was broadcast on April 26th 2001. 'Loft Story', a French remake of the 'Big Brother' format, caused a scandal and provoked endless debate and discussion among both the public and academics. One critic even claimed it marked a descent into “fascism”. Twenty years later the genre has become a standard part of TV viewing. Participants in some of the top-rated shows have become professionals with large incomes, working as 'influencers' who promote brands on social networks. François Bougon reports on the history of reality TV in France.

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On April 26th 2001 a new television show broadcast on the M6 channel sparked a media frenzy and the kind of endless debates the French adore and which quickly descend into generalities.