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Impact of Reality Shows on Younger Generation

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Media
Wordcount: 5493 words Published: 30th Jun 2017

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With the successful completion of the “Sirasa Super Star Session 1” most of Sri Lankan television channels started airing various kinds of reality programs. The organizers identified that these programs can easily raise the popularity of the television channels and above all the main aim of organising such events is the money which generating behind the screen.

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One of the main features of such shows that proliferated in the recent past across the television channels is the active participation of celebrities in varied capacities viz; presenters are judgers. Usually organisers of such events take greater care to stage such events in a more planned, colourful and in a dramatic manner, so as to attract all the age groups in the society.

Due to the tough competition prevailing among the television channels to win the viewers, innovations and differentiation has become key words to stay ahead in the reality business. Producers seems trying introducing various types of programmes but it is not hard to find those so called innovated programs happens to be just the carbon copies of American, European or the Indian reality shows. Due to this lacuna in originality these programs might not be suitable to the Sri Lanka culture as these programmes have been germinated with features related to the American or European culture.

Under this light it can be posited that nowadays reality shows are adversely effecting the educational and social development of our younger generation because predominantly the spectators found to be consisted with this social group.


  • AIM

The aim of this paper is to highlight the effect of reality programs on the younger generation in the light of their social and educational development.


Does the Sri Lankan younger generation is addicted to the reality programs due to the glamour and popularity of such programmes and will it effect the social and educational development of the younger generation of the Sri Lankan society?


Reality programs are adversely effecting the educational and social development of the younger generation in the Sri Lankan society.


The scope of this research is to gather the views and ideas of public regarding reality programs and to measure its effect on our younger generation.


To find out the reasons behind reality shows become so popular among the Sri Lankan viewers and to discover which age groups are more prone to be attractive to these programmes. Furthermore, to surface effects if any by the broadcasting reality shows on social and educational development of the Sri Lankan Society.

  1. To determine the reasons behind the popularity of reality programs among the Sri Lankan viewers.
  2. To obtain a better understanding about the financial benefits offered to the competitors and the spectators by the organisers and also to learn about the huge amount of money that circulating behind the screen.
  3. To find out true intensions of the organizers with regard to the facilitation the youths to enhance their talents, bringing talented youths to the limelight, making available monitory benefits and how the organizers (TV channels) intend to be benefited by reality programmes.
  4. To comment about the true potential of created “Stars” to remain bright in the show business sustaining the popularity over their contemporary traditional artists.
  5. To comment how will be the judges are qualified to judge the competitors fairly and to comment on the process of selecting the winners by the viewers through the medium of Telephones, SMS and post cards.

Data collection methods are as follows.

a. Primary Sources. Primary source of information will be gathered by interviewing selected groups of people. A questionnaire will be administered to the following respondents.

i. School Teachers

ii. Doctors

iii. Parents

iv. Officers in No 33 JCC representing Tri Forces

v. University Students

vi. School A/L Students

b. Secondary Source. Secondary source of information will be the related books, paper articles, web articles, library sources and relevant databases.


The thesis is structured as follows

a. CHAPTER I This Chapter will cover the Introduction.

b. CHAPTER II This Chapter will cover the Methodology.

c. CHAPTER III This chapter will covers the background of reality programs which are airing in Sri Lankan television channels.

d. CHAPTER IV This Chapter will cover the data which collected through the questionnaire.

e. CHAPTER V This Chapter will cover the data which collected through questionnaire and analyzes them accordingly

f. CHAPTER VI Conclusion.


“Reality programs are genre of television programming that presents supposedly unscripted dramatic or entertaining situations, events, competitions and usually features ordinary people instead of professional actors and the significant is the program is manipulating by a popular star” [1] . This kind of reality programs are commonly called “reality shows” and often they are produced in series. Documentaries and non fictional programming such as news and sports shows are usually not classified as reality shows.

“Reality television frequently portrays a modified and highly influenced form of reality, utilizing sensationalism to attract viewers and so to generate advertising profits. Participants are often placed in exotic locations or abnormal situations, and are sometimes coached to act in specific scripted ways by off-screen “story editors” or “segment producers,” with the portrayal of events and speech manipulated and contrived to create an illusion of reality through editing and other post-production techniques” [2] . Till the time all these reality programs were recognized as huge profit making exercise behind the screen and which were helping to raise the popularity of television channels.

The present nature of reality shows are started in American television channels, the most successful one was “American Ideal” and this was become very famous all around the world. Later it was spread among some other countries with their own identities such as, Australia, England, China, Japan and our neighbour country India too.

Sirasa TV is in the pioneer among the Sri Lankan television channels to air the reality shows. This has stemmed from their vision to present new energetic televisions programs to the Sri Lankan television society. General opinion held by the public of this country is that ‘Sirasa’ television always comes with a different style or sometimes may be very peculiar programs which may give an impressive experience to the Sri Lankan spectators who are already bored with watching monotonous television programs.

“Sirasa TV” introduced the new culture in TV entertainment through mega tele – drama to the Sri Lankan Society deviating away from traditional tele-dramas. Initially those tele-dramas were Indian origin and subtitled or dubbed in Sinhala language (e.g. “Shanthi” the Indian mega tele-drama dubbed in Sinhala). The regular Hindi lovers in the Sri Lankan society may embrace these tele-dramas. The popularity of the mega tele-dramas were increased in many folds with the introduction of mega tele-dramas with a Sri Lankan touch but based on Indian lifestyle and later themes and style shifted to be in line with the traditional Sri Lankan context. The statistics shows spectators flocked to-gether with the Sirasa TV each day during the hours between 2000hrs to 2200hrs to see their favourite tele-dramas in “Ran Depaya” which telecasted both Indian and Sri Lankan four mega tele-dramas within two hour period in the week days. Tele – dramas of Hindi origin but dubbed in sinhala such as “Mahagedara, “Chiththi” and “Praveena” and also the tele-dramas with Singhalese themes but produced in Indian style such as “Wasuda” and “Kindurangana” were equally became popular among Sri Lankan viewers.

Observing the grand success achieved by ‘Sirasa TV’ all the other television channels had to face the challenge of regaining their lost popularity. As a counter strategy other TV channels were also opted to follow the leader’s path. Hence, almost all other TV stations started to telecast mega tele-drams in their channels and some channels like Independence Television Network (ITN) become more successful than Sirasa TV since they managed to capture the taste of Sri Lankans with Sri Lankan style dramas instead of Indian dramas. Indian style Sinhala dramas also helped to boost up the popularity of the TV channel. As examples “Batti”, “Mutu Kirilli” “Paba” became very famous among the viewers. This series of Mega Tele-dramas were the last of the production list as produces witnessed a mark decline in popularity for such entertainment.

When the time passes these Mega tele-dramas become more burdensome for the viewers and they understood that the substances of most of these stories were same, monotonous and meaning less. Because of the endless and prolonged nature of these dramas, story had to be changed aimlessly suiting to the production difficulties ignoring the viewers’ needs and wants. Above all busy schedules of the working class caused to refuse these programs gradually but surely.

When the viewers are receding away from mega tele-dramas TV stations were forced to change their strategies to win the crowd. The requirement of the day was to innovate entertainment programmes that ensure a different experience to the tired mega tele-drama viewers. Again being the pioneer of presenting new experience to the viewers, Sirasa TV found out the solution to this. They presented an energetic, dramatic and curious program to the viewers named as “Sirasa Super Star Session I”, a singing competition. That was the gateway to Sri Lankan viewers to enter into the world of reality shows.

The “Sirasa Super Star Session I” is the most successful first reality program produced by the ‘Sirasa TV’ which based on a singing contest among general applicants. Because of its attractiveness and dramatic way of presenting it became vary famous among the viewers. Furthermore, because of that program telecasted during the weekend, it became ideal way of spending weekend for the people those who fed up working through week days and this has become real entertainment during weekends. Viewers found that they no longer required being bond to mega tele-dramas during the whole weekdays. Because of the popularity and financial benefits acquired by the Sirasa TV they started second session of the same program soon after the first. Mean time the other television channels also did some experiments on same reality programs and after achieving success they were ventured out to experiment more different types of reality programs and most of them again became very successful. Some times “Derana TV” and “Swarnavahini” were at the peak of popularity than Sirasa TV. Some of the Reality programs aired by each channels are attached to this as Annex – “B”


Locations and Stages. Normally these programs are being filmed at very attractive, colourful stages or locations or peculiar places such as ships, boats, gardens and famous hotels instead of using traditional stages. These stages are preparing in a very attractive style by spending huge amount of money due to the competition among each other. Utilization of modern technology for the stages decorations, filming and airing generally are at a higher standard and the quality is increasing day by day.

Dress and appearance. During the final stages of competition the organizers are having tendency to change the appearance of the competitors. This is done by changing dresses, hair styles and doing characteristic changes. Some times all the competitors are wearing same type of dresses according to the gender but keeping unique identity of the competitors. Some times they completely change the characters such as while male is dressed as woman and female is dressed as male. Sometimes they dressed as cartoon characters and may as jokers. The dress of the day may decided by the art director which related to the particular entertainment or the event of the day.

Empirical evidences shows that they changed the day’s dress of competitors according to the singing competition or the style of the songs or the era of the original song which sung by the first singer. In some programs like Derana Shadow Stars, the competitors are dressed up as the professional characters without any single change. However both the competitors and the organizers were blamed and criticised by the public regarding the improper dress selections of “Sirasa Kumario” ,”Derana Kumario” and “loving Stars” programs. In this programs the competitors and organizers were blamed that the young girls who were exposing the body in an unwanted way and which were not suitable to the society specially the children viewers. But this method of present was given a boosting popularity among the teenagers specially the men and majority of the others also accepted but not shown their consent openly.

Dramatic way of presenting The most attractive feature of this kind of reality programs are the dramatic way of presenting. This dramatic style is a new experience for the Sri Lankan viewers and it is the most successful feature which supporting to these programs becomes very popular among the public. This unscripted dramatic or entertaining situation touches the hearts of viewers and they automatically become emotional and some times they wouldn’t believe or like to believe the reality of the situation. The emotions feels to a competitor after loose or win can be feel even the viewers and they also become the part of that programs.

During final stages the organizers are planning to take the competitors to their hometowns and giving a good publicity through media and make them to be welcomed by the people of their hometowns, sometimes these events may pre planned. The organizers make the viewers to become a participant of the program and make them to feel that the voting through SMSs is a responsibility of them and to be with their countryman till the end and make him as the winner by their SMS votes.

Involvement of famous personal and stars as program announcers and masters of the ceremonies. Famous characters such as Film stars, Dancers, Singers or Politicians are taking part as the program announcers, Judges or as conductors of the program which is a significant feature in reality programs. Some times they take part in the judging panel and some times judges participating in the event may not have any relevance to the particular field or may not have any experience in that particular field. The popularity is rising up remarkably because of the participation of these people. Some examples for that are attached to this as Annex – “C”.

These kinds of programs are doing a commendable role to take out the talented Sri Lankan younger generation, those who does not having opportunity or financial support, to come out or highlight their talents. The experience is the most valuable intangible value that can gain by the competitors. Other than that popularity, good repetition in the society, identification in particular fields and opportunities are also intangible values that they can gain. Considering tangible values and financial values are at the peak and other than that other presents such as vehicles and properties and other gifts sometimes exceeds the value beyond the expectations of the participants. The Sirasa Super stars is at the cliff of presenting huge financial values to the competitors. Swarnavahini also has gained recognition as generous giver to the winners among other channels.


Reality programs have been identified as most lucrative programs in the Sri Lankan society which high profits can be assured by spending less. There are lots of methods that the organizers earning money through these programs and the methods of organizing these competitions with a lowest cost.

SMS Campaign In this reality programs the viewers also doing a vital role as the competitors. They are actively participating to these programs by sending their consent or the vote for a particular competitor while sending SMSs or calling to the dedicated hotlines.

Sending a SMS or calling to dedicated hotlines is an effective method to attracting and bonding the viewers to the programme since they are convincing that they also being a part of the programme. Mean time it can be defined as utilization of modern communication technology to attract the people to take part of these programs. For this process all the Sri Lankan telecom providers participated and they introduced their own methods for sending SMSs and calling to dedicated hotlines to facilitate viewers. This is one of the profits gaining mechanism of reality programs.

But only few of viewers know the cost they spending for a single SMS may be five times than normal SMS charges (Normal SMS Charges for Ea. Rs 1.00 and Reality show SMS Charges for Ea. Rs 10.00) [3] . This amount charging for single SMS is dividing between both the Organizing authority and the telecommunication provider. For facilitating this service to the viewers, the entire telecommunication providers in Sri Lanka had allocated special hotlines and hotline numbers for each program separately and introduced various types of formats and methods to sending SMSs and giving consent to the competitors since this is a good profitable mechanism for them. Further some other organizations also encouraging their customers to participate these programs.

As example NDB has promoted their account holders that to win a chance of Rs 25,000.00 by sending SMSs to the Sirasa Super Stars.

Advertisements Charging for advertisements which are airing during the reality programs telecasting time is also one of the money earning mechanism for the organizers (Television Canals or media sponsors).

Ex: During “Sirasa super Stars session 3” final day a thirty second advertisement were cost to rupees 600,000.00

Selling of songs, videos and photographs of stars. This is also one of a profitable business for the organizers. They sell the songs, which became popular during competitions, videos of special events and photographs of popular characters, stars or special events since the organizers are the dictator rights of the ownership of the program. In this case due to their whole authority the profits may be directly benefited to the organizers.

Musical shows and displays of stars to the public. Since the agreements and bonds which are signed by the “stars”, they automatically becoming real mallets of the organizers. This type of outdoor activities are arranging for the purpose gain popularity for the program and for financial benefits.


Arranging of this kind of reality show is huge money consuming task than a normal program. Because to get the attraction of people and competitors the organizers have to arrange these programs with mega prizes, attractive locations sometimes may overseas film shooting, attractive and different kinds of fashioned costumes and jewelleries, famous personal to lead the programs and for judging panels, cosmetics and dressing and attractive stages and luxury vehicles. To provide these facilities and come out with a successful presentation is a huge task for a single organizer. To overcome those difficulties the organizers are gathering sponsors to fulfil the above requirements. By sponsoring for these reality shows the sponsors also having opportunity to introduce and make attention of their products to the viewers. The business market that the sponsors are targeting can automatically be achieved through the programs because the majority of viewers are being teenagers. Some of the companies sponsoring for the programs are as follows:

Locations : Famous Hotels in Sri Lanka

Cosmetics and dressing : Janet cosmetics and Natures secrets

Jewelleries : Stone and strings

Dresses : Mondy, Wills, Hamedia, Saree

Mandir, Nolimit

Vehicles : AMW and United Mortars

Official Drinks : Pure Beverages and Elephant House

Official Bank : NDB


General question comes out with at the end of the program that the viewers that the judge panel are being qualified enough to judge the competitors. In some programs the judges were selected considering only the popularity they obtained in the society and they done their duties completely out of their relative subjects. Sometimes a well qualified dancer is in the judge panel of singing competition and some times a well qualified singer is judging a dancing competition. Sometimes performance of some judges are become real entertainment to both competitors and viewers but the problem is can they given a fair decision to the competitor without having sufficient knowledge about particular subject to choose the correct person for the next round. This type of trick is done by the organizers to attract viewers but the competitors are suffering from their incapable decisions [4] .


Because of the recognition given in a limited time period and lack of experience some competitors are unable to identify their weak points they might be overconfident of their talents. After become a “star” in one night they don’t have any idea to maintain their flow and they don’t have clear forward vision since their recognition has achieved without any sacrifice or effort.

Also these “stars” becoming popular among the viewers by imitating professionals. As examples in singing competition the competitors are imitating the songs which were sung by professionals and in a comedy program they are imitating the professionals. So at the end of the reality program the “stars” are recognize by the viewers from imitated presentations and the viewers may actually loves for the original owner of that presentation, may not for the competitor.

Another factor is these stars are charging high charges from Rupees 25000.00 to 50000.00 to sing 4 or 5 songs for a musical show and the professionals are charging Rupees 5000.00 to maximum 20000.00 for the same. [5] 

Sponsoring for these high charges of the “Stars” for social events may bear up the Sri Lankans those who are being abroad or the wealthy social events take place in Sri Lanka. But in outdoor activities in Sri Lanka local sponsors may not willing to bear up this high charges of “stars” since the Sri Lankan outdoor market is earning less profits and even the indoor activities spectators may not willing to pay high charges for entrance tickets.


Most of the reality programmes are very attractive and presenting in a decent style to the audience. Some of the programmes are actually imparting knowledge to the viewers especially for the younger generation. As example “Punchi Pahe MaÅ„” “Sri Lankan Life” “Derana Real Leader” etc..


Because of the competition among the television channels the organizers are trying to implement different type of reality programmes and sometimes with or without intention they are violating Sri Lankan ethics and norms due to high competition among each other. As examples “Sirasa Kumariya” and “Derana Kumariya” programme were blamed by the general public that the organizers are intentionally selecting unethical dresses which unnecessarily exposes the body of the girls and sometimes they are appearing to the programme wearing swimming suit or wetted cloths which indirectly showing body curves to the public in an unethical way.

Another example the organizers of “Swarnawahini Loving Star” programme was blamed because some events are unethical and which are not suitable for the Sri Lankan society and some of the events of that programme were giving wrong ideas to the younger generation. Due to displeasure of the general public especially the elders that programme was stopped after completing only one session.


These programmes are airing usually after 1830 Hrs to 2200Hrs [6] and that time is commonly known as the ideal study time for the students. But due to addicting to these programmes the younger generation is spending their valuable study time for education some times because of the addiction of the parents to these programmes it may disturb to the children those who are engaging studies during these time period.


The required data was collected through a questionnaire and under mentioned groups were questioned through the questionnaire. Numbers of forty five people sample among the general public were selected randomly under the following heads.

a. School Teachers

b. Doctors

c. Parents

d. Officers in No 33 JCC representing Armed Forces

e. University Students

f. School A/L Students

52. The data which are collected through questionnaire and were re structure according to the under mentioned age groups.

a. Age below 20 years (13People/ School Students)

b. Age between 21 to 30 years. (8 People/Majority is University Students)

c. Age between 31 to 40 years. (11 People/Majority is Armed forces Officers)

d. Age above 40 years (13 People/Parents)

53. Among the questions in the questionnaire, under mentioned questions were selected and data analyzed with respected to the questions and age groups are as follows.

  • Question No 9: Do you think reality programs (Such as Sirasa Super Star/Comedy Star/Dream Star/ Little Star/ Sirasa Kumariya/Shadow Star etc…) are badly affecting to the social development of our younger generation?
  • Question No 10: Do you think reality programs (Such as Sirasa Super Star/Comedy Star/Dream Star/ Little Star/ Sirasa Kumariya/Shadow Star etc…) are badly affecting to the educational development of our younger generation?
  • Question No 11: As your view, the intention of organizing reality programs by the television channels is/are,
  • Question No 12: Do the winners of this kind of reality programs are having a future carrier and are they capable to maintain their popularity as professional entertainers for a long period?


  • Question No 3: Would you interested to watch reality programs (Such as Sirasa Super Star/Comedy Star/Dream Star/ Little Star/ Sirasa Kumariya/Shadow Star etc…)?

 Analyzing the answers given for the popularity based question, it can be justified that the people below 40 years of age are more interested to watch reality programmes than the people above 40 years among the selected people group.

It can prove that the younger generation is more interested than the elder people about reality programs.

Analyzing all the result of the answers given to above questions, it is proving that all the age groups are interested to watch reality programmes which are telecasting in Sri Lankan television channels.

  • Question No 9: Do you think reality programs (Such as Sirasa Super Star/Comedy Star/Dream Star/ Little Star/ Sirasa Kumariya/Shadow Star etc…) are badly affecting to the social development of our younger generation?

Analyzing the answers given for the affect to the society and social development based question, the people below 30 years are not agreed to the author’s argument but people above 30 years, who can be considered as mature people, are agreed with the author’s argument.

Also overall result analyze for the question regarding affects to social development majority of the selected group of people are agreed to the argument which made by the author.

So it can be conclude as the reality programmes are badly affecting to the social development of our younger generation.

  • Question No 10: Do you think reality programs (Such as Sirasa Super Star/Comedy Star/Dream Star/ Little Star/ Sirasa Kumariya/Shadow Star etc…) are badly affecting to the educational development of our younger generation?

Analyzing the answers given for the effect to the educational development based on question, the whole sample which consists younger and elder generation is agreed with the argument made by the author.

Specially the age group above 31 years have expressed their idea that the some reality programs are being affected to the educational development of the younger generation

Also overall result analyze for the question regarding affects to educational development majority of the selected sample of people are agreed to the argument which made by the author.

So it can be conclude as some of the reality programmes are badly affecting to the educational development of our younger generation.

  • Question No 11: As your view, the intention of organizing reality programs by the television channels is/are…

Analyzing the answers given for the actual intention of the organizers of reality programs based on question, the each age group is having believe that the actual intention of the programmes are popularity and financial benefits of the organizers.

But considering whole result of the question the sample is having believe that the actual intentions are popularity and financial benefits of the organizers and explore the young talents in relevant fields.

  • Question No 12: Do the winners of this kind of reality programs are having a future carrier and are they capable to maintain their popularity as professional entertainers for a long period?

Analyzing the answers given


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