Television

'Fear Factor' runs into hot water with the American Humane Association

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In India reality show Fear Factor may be running on AXN without a hitch but in America it has created a storm. The American Humane Association (AHA) has alleged that television networks NBC and CBS have made a conscious corporate decision to condone the killing and abuse of animals simply to jack up ratings.

Viewers expressed great disapproval over the 11 March episode of Fear Factor on NBC. AHA claims to have received statements from viewers finding the blatant disregard for animal safety appalling. Responses indicated 'extreme concern, disgust, and anger.' There is tension over the fact that the marketing of animal cruelty, regardless of species, sends the message to a large audience of kids that violence against animals is a valid and acceptable form of entertainment.

Veterinarians, herpetologists, and professional animal trainers have confirmed that the snakes on Fear Factor showed evidence of trauma and injury. A profesional made the following statement, "A snake has a backbone comprised of many, fine and delicate ribs which are easily broken. Their skin is fragile, as is their musculature. From what we viewed, many of these snakes suffered permanent injuries and unnecessary abuse for the sole purpose of entertainment".

Besides Fear Factor, Survivor has also come under a cloud. In an official release AHA has stated that its Film and Television Unit regards the shows mistreatment of animals as being completely unacceptable.

VP AHA's Western Regional Office Karen Goschen said, "The mission of AHA's Film and TV Unit is to protect everything from ants to elephants because all life should be respected. By sending the message that it is okay to disregard the lives of even the smallest animals, NBC and CBS are disregarding public cries for compassion.

If we permit the abuse and exploitation of animals in reality entertainment, we stand the danger of encouraging additional abuse in the real world. AHA has received complaints regarding 'Fear Factor', Survivor, Murder in Small Town X, and Real TV.

Professional trainers in the film industry say they refuse to work on these shows because the producers demand stunts that violate AHA's "Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media", including killing animals. However AHA has no jurisdiction over reality shows and producers state that since they have not technically broken laws, they will not adhere to AHA's Guidelines.

AHA's Film and Television Unit claims to have protected animal actors for over 60 years and its Guidelines are considered the industry standard. Most entertainment products for television, motion picture, commercials, and video markets fall under its jurisdiction and are eligible for the well-known "no animal was harmed" disclaimer the release states.

Founded in 1877, the American Humane Association claims to be America's only national non-profit organisation dedicated to protecting children and animals from cruelty, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

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