Sunday 15 March 2020 11:31 am

Ofcom draws up new rules to protect reality TV stars

Ofcom has laid out a revised set of rules aimed at protecting participants in TV and radio programmes.

The regulator’s intervention comes after the deaths of two former Love Island contestants and host Caroline Flack, as well as a former guest on the now-cancelled Jeremy Kyle Show.

Read more: Love Island stars describe struggles after show as MPs probe reality TV

Ofcom said it had also seen a “steady rise” in complaints from viewers who expressed concern about the welfare and wellbeing of people who take part in programmes.

In proposals published last week, the watchdog said it would extend broadcasters’ responsibility to obtain informed consent from participants so that they know about any potential harms or negative impacts from the show.

TV firms would also be made to provide due care to vulnerable people, taking into account the person’s circumstances and the nature of their contribution.

In addition, Ofcom said broadcasters must protect audiences from potential harm or offence resulting from a lack or perceived lack of care.

The proposals come after Ofcom last year opened a consultation, receiving feedback from participants, psychiatrists and broadcasters.

MPs blasted producers at ITV during an inquiry into broadcasters’ duty of care following the apparent suicide of former Jeremy Kyle Show guest Steve Dymond.

The media bosses were branded “irresponsible” for using lie detector tests without knowing how accurate they were, while Damian Collins, then chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, said the producers’ lack of medical knowledge was “astonishing”.

Read more: Ofcom sets out new rules for reality TV after Jeremy Kyle Show death

ITV has since axed the show, but concerns have been compounded by the death of former Love Island presenter Caroline Flack, who killed herself at her home in east London in February.

Ofcom has invited interested parties to submit responses to the proposals by 14 April, with a final decision set to be published in the summer.