Apparently mediums and the paranormal have replaced cop shows as the latest television drama genre of choice — if you are to believe TV3’s marketing, whether news or promo puff pieces, there’s fact behind the fiction. Yeah right….

TV3 has been heavily promoting their Dare to Believe (DTB) low-budget exploitainment series with performer Jeanette Wilson, stating on its website that the show reunites New Zealanders with loved ones who have ‘passed’. The channel shouldn’t get a free run to exploit the grieving or recently bereaved in the name of mass entertainment and economic gain. To date, there’s nothing more to it than the usual banalities, generalities and classic cold reading spiels seen time and time again.

Apologists for the industry often claim that it doesn’t matter whether such performers are genuine or not, as all they are doing is simply providing ‘comfort’. Deception and delusion, no matter how well intended, are nonetheless exploitative. That exploitation can take many forms, whether causing unnecessary heartbreak for distraught parents of missing children, fleecing little old ladies out of their retirement savings, or breaking up relationships through inappropriate advice — all of which we have seen occur here and overseas.

What can you do? Write to TV3 and ask them where’s the evidence for them stating unequivocally that the spirits of dead people are lining up on demand. Challenge them to produce a real test of Wilson’s capabilities. Better broadcasters and real investigative reporters overseas have done this. Tell TV3 how they look sooo last century and, frankly, ignorant, in breathlessly promoting the same old tired spiels as somehow cutting-edge. This sort of stuff was old hat to Houdini.

20/20 did a poor job last year in its initial promo item on Wilson, and got the Bent Spoon Award for it, a sad thing to see in a once well-regarded current affairs programme. Perhaps it’s not surprising that an ‘infotainment’ tabloid news show like Nightline can be used as a promotional vehicle for the debut show of Dare to Believe.

If you have concerns about this approach to news, or the poor judgement shown by TV3 in supporting DTB as a programming choice, or what this says about TV3/CanWest as a company, by all means let TV3 know.

Or try a different tack. Write to the advertisers in the surrounding timeslots and express your disappointment that they are being seen in conjunction with this form of low quality exploitainment, how it hurts their image to be associated with it, how you’ll be switching to a competitor when making future purchases of their products or services.

Or just turn the TV off….

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