"The show looks more like a YouTube page than a television show. Though moderators do edit the text messages that come in before they post them to the screen, the show is live with no tape delay, says Helena Kirby, a producer for the show and one of its 7 rotating hosts. “There’s no swearing and no sexual talk — we keep it pretty clean,” she adds. Viewers pay a small fee per text message to participate.
Ms. Kirby says the show’s best moments have been when viewers sparred about race issues or politics. “People get fired up,” she says. But this January the show — which has been on since last year — began focusing more on games and contests, like trivia challenges, than on debates.
A similar show in Texas called Subtext, which features students from the University of Texas at Austin, uses a similar format but focuses on dating.
The shows are essentially trying to turn television into something more like the Internet. In fact, the shows would probably work better as interactive Web pages where people could put aside their cell phones and interact with their computer keyboards. But then the show’s producers would not be able to make a cut of the text-messaging fees, as they do now.