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KATHERINE SHONFIELD

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Trust, truth and television have a particularly tenuous connection. The story going round about the drugs documentary in which the runners were Equity members, their air fare courtesy of Carlton, and the heroin Extra Strong Trebor Mints, is a case in point. The traditional sense of stunned betrayal, patented when American quiz shows were fixed in the 1950s, is the official public response. This is disingenuous. We have a curiously childlike reaction to the screen, swapping the acute awareness of individual authorship we have when we read a book for a passive acceptance of broadcast material as gospel.

However, it is just because we are all reduced to infants by television that truth indeed does make a difference. Rumours have also been circulating recently about the house make-over programmes. Home Front and Changing Rooms delude the viewer into thinking that design services come free of charge, that labour costs do not exist, and that time is a flexible commodity without impact on cost. In effect these programmes infantilise the viewer just as surely as the medium of television itself.

The whole basis of a contract rests on truth and trust, and it is also an exchange based on a relationship between grown-up equals, who can broadly assess appropriate costs from their own experience of life. A generation is being groomed to be enthralled by design. But the obfuscation of the true facts of the building process is the last thing they or we need in them as clients.

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