MILAN (Reuters Life!) - At an hour when its teenage viewers ought to be sleeping, a music video channel has been broadcasting a few titillating minutes of the latest contest to excite Italian television.
Every night at midnight, All Music has been putting on "Tutti Nudi" (Everyone Naked), a striptease contest in which the contenders reveal their assets to the beat of pop music.
Most contestants, like a 20-year-old man nicknamed Jonath4, encourage viewers who have bothered to stay up for the show to vote for them via text message by mobile phone.
"I even ask my mother to vote for me," he said.
Although the prize is a motorcycle, most participants do not seem to care whether they win or not, being simply happy to be on television for everyone to see.
"I had a lot of fun," a 61-year-old pensioner named Carmelo told the Corriere della Sera newspaper. "I would do it again."
No professional strippers are allowed and the intimate parts of the contenders who appear on the show are blurred.
"Tutti Nudi" is the latest of a seemingly endless number of contests broadcast nightly across Italy.
Although some are a variant of the widely popular "Big Brother" format, others invite people to propose marriage to unsuspecting partners, get mothers to choose the best woman for their sons and pit models against farmers in reciting poetry.
Corrado Calabro, head of television regulator Agcom, lamented last week what he called "shoddy" programming and pledged to get broadcasters and producers to support European and independent producers to improve its quality.
But a spokeswoman for All Music, part of media group L'Espresso, said it had received few complaints.
On the contrary, she pointed to the dozens of clips from the show that had been posted on the Web site www.youtube.com as a sign of its popularity.
One of those clips has a middle-aged architect named Nick showing his stuff.
After a few mock poses as James Bond, he takes off his tuxedo, bounces to the sound of Tom Jones and does a head-stand to show the skimpy red thong he is wearing.
"I'm dangerous! Very dangerous," he says enthusiastically.