I'm only surprised that this started in Germany.
For the German media entrepreneur Wolf-Tilmann Schneider, though, it was a normal working day – and the perfect moment to set out his plans for Death television. The Grim Reaper, it seems, will soon be exposed to the full glare of the studio lights.
Etos-TV will be Europe’s first channel devoted to death: documentaries on beautiful cemeteries, round-table discussions about the appropriate means of burial and on-screen obituaries that can be distributed later to friends and family on the internet.
The Good Mourning channel, as it has been mockingly dubbed by some, acknowledges that the population of Germany is ageing rapidly, that older people are often well-off and that the old taboos about discussing death are beginning to melt away. “Some 830,000 people die a year,” said Mr Schneider, “and there are two million elderly in care.” As a result there was a big demand for information about death, inheritance law and insurance policies.
The satellite channel is being backed by an undertakers’ association representing 3,000 funeral parlours across Germany. Its programmes will be sponsored by residential homes and stair-lift companies.
“This is not primarily an advertising channel,” Kerstin Gernig, for the undertakers, said. “It is about passing on information. Every person has left his mark, raised children, paid taxes, done something. We would like them to be shown respect.” On offer, too, will be an obituary service. For about €2,000 (£1,400), a photograph of a dead friend or relative will be shown on the screen, along with a spoken tribute. The 90-second obituary will be repeated ten times and then be available for distribution on the internet. For a higher fee, a short film can be made recording highlights from the life of the deceased.