I read this novel in the 1990s. It involved a neighborhood, much like a cooperative, whose houses were all interconnected with closed circuit TV or similar. The inhabitants were all given a responsibilty to fill a certain quota of televisable entertainment (with a name that resembled MTV). Real-world MTV was relatively new for the time I read it. The protagonist family were fined?/chastised? for not providing enough quality for the neighbours to watch.

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    Big Brother? The Real World? Jersey Shore? Real Housewives...sounds like that book became reality. – Michael Brown Mar 21 '13 at 20:50
  • Was there tv-time in Harrison Bergeron? Obviously not the reference the OP was looking for but it scratched an old brain cell. – Erik Reppen Mar 22 '13 at 4:09
  • Not an answer, but very reminiscent of Andy Warhol's "everyone will be famous for 15 minutes" comment. – user1197 Aug 16 '15 at 3:02

It it a Stephen king story? If so it sounds like it is one in one of his early works, The Running Man

Society is kind of futuristic and dumpy dumpy, and I guy is forced onto the show and they track him as he tries to survive, as a part of a reality show, more or less.

“He was seated at the table, staring up at the Free-Vee with steady, vacant concentration. He had been watching it for weeks now. It wasn’t like him. He hated it, always had. Of course, every Development apartment had one—it was the law—but it was still legal to turn them off. The Compulsory Benefit Bill of 2021 had failed to get the required two-thirds majority by six votes. Ordinarily they never watched it. But ever since Cathy had gotten sick, he had been watching the big-money giveaways. It filled her with sick fear”

If he meets the parameter of the show they win money, in a very poor society, so he puts his life on the line..

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  • It wasn’t mandatory, but it had to do with their economy, everyone being so poor. – Thefuturenostalgic Nov 23 '18 at 8:22
  • Thanks for the answer, but it is not any Stephen King book or story. – wbogacz Nov 25 '18 at 16:47

Also, this could be 1984... there were the broadcasts from the state and you were watched by the projector and not allowed to not watch, turn off the broadcasts....

(From google) In 1984, the telescreen is mandatory for Party members and, as such, telescreens are installed in the homes and workplaces of these people as well as in public areas. The telescreen is a useful tool for the Party because it enables the constant surveillance of the movements and conversations of Party members.

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  • Mmmh... IIRC Winston Smith had no contact with his family. – Jenayah Nov 23 '18 at 8:50
  • Thanks for the answer, but it is not 1984, a book I've read many times. – wbogacz Nov 25 '18 at 16:46

This sounds very much like Fahrenheit 451 by Raymond Bradbury, both the book and movie are excellent. A bleak future where books are illegal, and a firefighters job is not to put out fires, but burn books.

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  • Sorry, this is not Big Brother oppression where the government spies on the inhabitants. I remember the book describing it as a [paraphrasing] cooperative neighborhood activity to provide family drama for the entertainment of the rest of the neighbors. – wbogacz May 23 '13 at 0:10

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