Ofcom unveils new rules to protect people taking part in TV shows

Ofcom unveils new rules to protect people taking part in TV shows

TV channels must look after members of the public who take part in their shows under new rules unveiled by Ofcom.

The broadcasting regulator said recent years had seen a “steady rise in complaints about the mental health and wellbeing of programme participants”.

The deaths of a string of participants on TV shows also raised concerns.

Ofcom has told broadcasters they now have a responsibility for people who “might be at risk of significant harm as a result of taking part”.

In May 2019, the death of Steve Dymond a week after he filmed an appearance on The Jeremy Kyle Show led to a public outcry and the cancellation of the ITV programme.

Last month, a coroner said Kyle “may have caused or contributed” to Mr Dymond’s death. The 63-year-old died of a morphine overdose and heart condition.

Calls for greater care were also raised after two former Love Island contestants took their own lives in 2018 and 2019.

Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis took part in the ITV2 dating show in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Ofcom’s director of standards and audience protection said: “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.”

The regulator said the new rules were “aimed at protecting vulnerable people and others not used to being in the public eye”.

It added: “Broadcasters will need to take due care where, for example, a programme is likely to attract a high level of media or social media interest; the programme features conflict or emotionally-challenging situations; or it requires a person to disclose life-changing or private aspects of their lives.”

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