German TV show will go on despite live crash: producer

6th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

The producers of one of Germany's most popular TV programmes said Monday the show would go on despite a horrific accident during a live broadcast watched by millions.

"Wetten, dass...?" ("Wanna bet?"), shown on public channel ZDF six or seven times each year, sees members of the public attempt daring feats, interspersed with celebrity chat, and regularly attracts some 10 million viewers.

ZDF programme director Thomas Bellut said the show would now do more to protect its contestants after 23-year-old Samuel Koch suffered serious spine injuries during a prime-time broadcast Saturday.

"'Wetten, dass' will certainly continue," he told public radio.

"We will boost our safety standards once again although we were always of the opinion that they could hardly be more stringent."

During the live show from the western city of Duesseldorf, Koch had attempted to leap lengthways over a moving car wearing spring-loaded stilts.

But he crash landed and was next seen lying motionless face-down on the floor as the audience looked on in horror.

Host Thomas Gottschalk called off the show, a national institution, for the first time in its 29-year history as Koch was rushed to hospital.

ZDF said Sunday that Koch had suffered "serious spinal injuries" and been put into an artificial coma after doctors operated on him for two and a half hours.

A hospital spokeswoman said Monday that he was still in a critical condition.

Critics say the show's stunts have become more and more dangerous over the years as ZDF has battled for viewers.

"Even if the contestant gets better, as hopefully he will, there will definitely be consequences from this accident," the influential Spiegel magazine said on its website.

"We need to see how we will change the rules for contestants so that something like this never happens again," Bellut acknowledged.

But he denied that a race for top ratings had made the show reckless.

"The pressure for ratings does not make us say that we will be successful at any cost," Bellut said. "Whether we have one or two million viewers more or less is not a decisive factor for us."

© 2010 AFP

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