BEHIND THE HEADLINES: Reality bites into a summer of TV ratings

People who have tired of the reality TV format are in for a testing

summer with the media set to be dominated by Survivor and Big Brother

2.



The first episode of Survivor was screened on ITV last Monday. Yet a

campaign hyping the show had already been very active in the media for

the previous two weeks.



Even before a second of the show had been aired, it was difficult to

escape the 16 candidates battling to escape eviction from an island off

Borneo to claim a pounds 1m prize.



Freud Communications is running the Survivor PR campaign. TV team

assistant Rob Lowe says the volume of coverage before the show has been

helped by taking journalists out to the island where the series was

filmed to experience the same harsh conditions 'enjoyed' by the

contestants.



The media is not allowed to talk to any of the contestants who endured

the challenge until the show in which they are evicted has been

screened.



Even then, media access is tightly controlled by Freud, but they will be

'hyped up as much as possible,' said Lowe.



The PR preparations for Big Brother 2, meanwhile, have been notably low

key.



The media has made much of the 'ratings war' between the two shows, with

Big Brother 2 starting this weekend. Big Brother's PR agency, Henry's

House, is taking the 'exact opposite' tack to Freud according to

managing director Julian Henry: 'Because no-one is familiar with the

brand, they have been saying Survivor is going to take on Big Brother.

The show is pre-recorded so they can leak information, which we can't

physically do.'



Henry says the team will continue to hold back on information about the

contestants rather than splash it, even after the contestants enter the

Big Brother house.



'There are things we know but that we will allow to come out during the

show rather than announcing them. And because ours is live drama, it has

the potential to be quite dry, so we don't want to build people up and

then disappoint them,' he says.



Interactive technology is again a key part of the BB package. The

infamous webcams on the website will this year be complemented by the

show running for up to 21 hours a day on digital station E4, and text

messaging will be used to keep fans up-to-date.



Survivor may look like it's ahead of the publicity game at this stage,

but the winner of the summer's reality-vision ratings battle is far from

over.



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