Ofcom proposes new rules to help radio participants

Ofcom is proposing new rules to ensure that people who take part in radio and television shows are properly looked after by broadcasters.

The changes to the Broadcasting Code would ensure due care must be taken over the welfare, wellbeing and dignity of participants in programmes, participants must not be caused unjustified distress or anxiety by taking part in programmes or by the broadcast of those programmes.

The guidelines would be relevant in radio for features such as phone-ins and competitions, whilst television would see new guidance for reality shows, talent shows, news programmes and documentaries.

New guidances would be issues to help broadcasters interpret and apply the new rules should they be approved.

The regulator says recent events surrounding the cancellation of ITV’s Jeremy Kyle Show in May 2019 have underlined the importance of the review.

Ofcom already has rules placing responsibilities on broadcasters around participants in programmes, and specific safeguards for people under-18. But there has been growing openness and concern in society about mental health and wellbeing in recent years.

Tony Close, Ofcom’s Director of Content Standards, said: “People who take part in TV and radio shows must be properly looked after by broadcasters, and these rules would ensure that happens.

“These new safeguards must be effective. So we’re listening carefully to programme participants, broadcasters, producers and psychologists before we finalise them.”

Ofcom has also seen a steady rise in complaints expressing concern about the welfare and wellbeing of people who take part in programmes.

Feedback on the new rules and guidance is invited by 23 September 2019.