US TV network blasted for turning layoffs into entertainment

April 10th, 2009 - 8:44 am ICT by IANS  

Los Angeles, April 10 (DPA) A new reality TV show by US network Fox will ask workers at small businesses to vote on which of their colleagues should be fired to help the company survive, the network has announced.
The show called “Somebody’s Gotta Go” will highlight a small business that needs to downsize because of the economy. But instead of the bosses wielding the job axe, co-workers must choose who among themselves has to go.

Workers will have to defend themselves and justify their work habits and will be able to see each others’ usually private records including budgets, human resources files and salaries.

The show will debut at a time of soaring US unemployment, with jobless rate already the highest in a generation at 8.5 percent. More than five million people have lost their jobs since the start of the recession in December 2007, with almost 700,000 Americans losing their jobs last month alone.

In such circumstances, the new show crosses the bounds of good taste, said recruitment expert John Challenger.

“This is treating a real-life situation - one of the most difficult in someone’s life - as if it’s a game,” he told Good Morning America. “Telling someone they are losing their job is such a private matter. Letting someone go in a public way certainly could lead to depression and other sorts of mental health risks.”

Fox executive Mike Darnell defended the show.

“It’s part of the times that we are living in,” he said Thursday. “It’s certainly no worse than watching the news every night and hearing all the statistics and watching what is happening.”

Producer David Goldberg told trade paper Variety that companies were eager to participate.

“For a lot of people, it takes the pressure off them,” he said. “It’s safe to say it hasn’t been difficult to find companies willing to participate.”

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