TV shows will face new rules on looking after its participants following scrutiny over Love Island and Jeremy Kyle’s programme The Jeremy Kyle Show.
Ofcom has said that those taking part in TV and radio programmes must be ‘properly looked after’ by broadcasters, after the death of Jeremy Kyle Show guest Steve Dymond last year.
The television watchdog announced new measures ‘in recognition of the growing openness and concern in society about mental health and wellbeing.’
‘We have also seen a steady rise in complaints about the welfare of people taking part in programmes in recent years,’ a spokesperson said.
Broadcasters will need to take due care in programmes featuring ‘conflict or emotionally challenging situations’ or if it ‘requires a person to disclose life-changing or private aspects of their lives.’
Adam Baxter, Ofcom’s director of standards and audience protection, added: ‘People taking part in TV and radio programmes deserve to be properly looked after.
‘Our new protections set a clear standard of care for broadcasters to meet – striking a careful balance between broadcasters’ creative freedom and the welfare of the people they feature.’
Broadcasters have faced increased scrutiny following the deaths of former Love Island contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis.
Meanwhile, The Jeremy Kyle Show was axed in May 2019 following Steve’s death.
Ofcom said people taking part in programmes must be informed about any potential welfare risks from appearing.
Treatment of people who appear to be put at risk of significant harm, as a result of taking part in a programme, is now included as an explicit example of material that may cause offence to audiences.
The measures do not apply to most news and current affairs programming.
The rules will apply to programmes that begin production from early April.
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What is Ofcom and what does it cover?
Ofcom is the regulator for the communications services that we use and rely on each day.
The watchdog makes sure people get the best from their broadband, home phone and mobile services, as well as keeping an eye on TV and radio.
Ofcom deals with most content on television, radio and video-on-demand services, including the BBC. However, if your complaint is about something you saw or heard in a BBC programme, you may need to complain to the BBC first.
Its rules for television and radio programmes are set out in the Broadcasting Code.
The rules in the Broadcasting Code also apply to the BBC iPlayer.
This Broadcasting Code is the rule book that broadcasters have to follow and it covers a number of areas, including; protecting the under-18s, protecting audiences from harmful and/or offensive material and ensuring that news, in whatever form, is reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality.
Audiences can complain to Ofcom if they believe a breach of the Broadcasting Code has been made.
Every time Ofcom receives a complaint from a viewer or listener, they assess it to see if it needs further investigation.
If Ofcom decide to investigate, they will include the case in a list of new investigations, published in the Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin.
An investigation is a formal process which can take some time depending on the complexity of the issues involved.
Ofcom can also launch investigations in the absence of a complaint from a viewer or listener.