There is nothing more unsavory than exploiting people for TV ratings – but that's just what a TV show in Saudi Arabia did.
In a video that went viral, the host on Bedaya TV channel is seen holding the hand of guest and looking mostly at the camera as he breaks the news of his father's death.
The young man, Ibrahim Al Awad, who was on air as a game show contestant, looked visibly apprehensive as the host started talking, but when he finally got around to telling him about his father's passing, the man loses it, throwing off his cap and repeatedly saying in Arabic, "What are you saying? Are you serious?!" while running around the studio overcome with emotion and in a daze, before finally collapsing.
It's despicable and deplorable and everything that's bad with television, and most people who watched it felt the same. The video was watched 1.2 million times and has 19,000 comments, most of which condemn the network.
@amer_6665961 calls it a "dirty channel" in Arabic, while fahad51e428 said: "Media channels like these idiots (don't consider) that this is a man who feels and this failed media is stripped of anything that resembles humanity as they strive for higher ratings."
In the backlash that ensued, the network is paying the price. They issued a statement claiming that they have suspended employees involved in the incident. The statement also said that management had no direct knowledge that this was planned nor had they given their consent for the news to be broken on air, and that they will investigate the matter further.
Abdull Aziz Al Oraify, the channel's chairman of the board has reportedly called the incident foolish and unacceptable. It was also reported that when the scene unfolded live, the channel's management paused the program for a commercial break, according to Khaleej Times.
At which point does morality trump high ratings? It's not that thin of a line, however it's crossed many times by media channels. But if they think they can get away with it unscathed, they're in for a nasty surprise. Sensational news may gain high ratings but it ruins the reputation of a network, and costs them their credibility.
That's something that the producers of this show didn't think about, clearly. Whether management is in on it or not, is unclear. Regardless, it was a bad move on their part, and they're now paying the price. Can't say we feel bad for them.