TV ratings are exceptionally high for sex-related programs and the ever-popular game shows in most countries, according to a new survey.
Sex and science, sex and spirituality and sex for the sake of sex -- anything goes, according to International Medias Consultants Associes (IMCA) and Mediametrie, a French television audience monitoring firm, which produced the survey.
"Sex sells whatever the medium," said Sheily Lemon of IMCA.
"The 2007-2008 season was marked partly by the return of game shows, many of them games depending greatly on chance and the participants' psychological skills, and also partly by sex, sex and more sex spiced by just a little bit of spirituality," said Amandine Cassi, one of the authors of the study of viewing habits covering 2,000 networks in 82 countries or territories.
Sex rears its head in magazine programmes, documentaries, reality shows, series and sitcoms, for example in Spain with such programmes as "El sexometro" on the Cuatro channel, in France with shows like "Sexualite et amour: vos questions, nos reponses" (Sexuality and Love, Your Questions Our Replies) on France 3, and in Britain with "Sexilicious" on Channel Five.
"From the point of view of relationships, there is an antagonism between apologies for sex for the sake of sex in opposition to stable, solid, long-term relationships," said Sheily Lemon.
"Most of the time all these programmes have a scientific gloss with experts explaining how it's done, involving very technical details," she said.
The British documentary on the ITV1 channel, "How to get more sex", went into the theme of chemical means of sexual attraction by inviting participants to sniff various odours, without knowing whether these were male, female or those of a pig, for example, and then saying which ones attracted them most.
Sheily Lemon noted that even Roman Catholic channels, such as NED 3 in The Netherlands, talk about sex, citing the programme "40 dagen zonder seks"(40 days without sex) which invites young viewers to observe sexual abstinence for 40 days.
As for game shows, family, money or general knowledge are all fair game as subjects too provide an excuse for this ever-popular type of programme.
The study singles out one programme on the United States network NBC, "My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad", in which fathers and their offspring have to demonstrate their ability to work as a team.
Then there is the game show on Fox Television called "The Moment Of Truth," in which participants reveal the intimate things about themselves - revelations which can sometimes be horrific news to their families.