Ofcom has proposed new rules to protect participants in TV and radio shows, weeks after ITV bosses were slammed over the death of a guest on The Jeremy Kyle Show.
The regulator today unveiled plans for new rules requiring broadcasters to protect the welfare and dignity of participants in shows, and to ensure participants are not caused “unjustified” stress or anxiety as a result of the programme.
The new measures would apply to entertainment programming such as reality TV shows and talent contests, as well as news and current affairs. It would not apply to dramas, sitcoms and soaps.
MPs last month lambasted producers at ITV during an inquiry into broadcasters’ duty of care following the apparent suicide of a 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, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee, said the producers’ lack of medical knowledge was “astonishing”.
ITV has since axed the show, but said it will continue to work with host Kyle.
Ofcom said it is planning to issue guidance to broadcasters to help them interpret and apply the new rules. The regulator said the guidance would consider aspects such as the use of lie detectors.
ITV’s hit dating show Love Island, whose season finale will air tonight, has also come under scrutiny after the suicides of two former participants.
“People who take part in TV and radio shows must be properly looked after by broadcasters, and these rules would ensure that happens,” said Ofcom’s director of content standards Tony Close.
“These new safeguards must be effective. So, we’re listening carefully to programme participants, broadcasters, producers and psychologists before we finalise them.”
The regulator said its proposed rules reflect the fact that different shows will require different forms and levels of care. It added that it did not want to discourage broadcasters from featuring vulnerable people on its programmes.
Ofcom has invited feedback on the new rules by September, and will publish its final decisions in the winter.
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