`The Chamber' shuts down

January 30, 2002|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

The Fox network has pulled its new reality show The Chamber off the air after just one week in its regular Friday time period.

The program, which bound contestants in a chair and exposed them to either sub-zero temperatures or to flames that raised the temperature past 150 degrees Fahrenheit, had aroused a critical outcry over subjecting people to what appeared to be torture for the entertainment of television viewers.

The Chamber also kicked off a confrontation with ABC, which had developed a show with a somewhat similar format called The Chair. That show, much more a game show than a reality program, remains on the air.

Ratings for The Chamber collapsed Friday night. Only about 5.6 million people watched the show. On its first try, on a Sunday night, the show had reached about 10 million people.

Ratings for The Chair have also dropped off, and last night's program was to be closely watched by ABC.

Fox is not totally out of ideas for shows with egregious content, however. Coming up Feb. 21 will be The Glutton Bowl, a two-hour special devoted to eating competitions set up by the International Federation of Competitive Eating. Competitors will show their prowess in consuming items such as hot dogs, hamburgers, eggs, beef tongue (unsliced) and butter.

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