Love Island could be taken off air by Ofcom if it fails to comply with its new protections for people taking part in the series.
Adam Baxter, Ofcom’s Director of Broadcasting Standards, says the television watchdog has put in regulations to guard the well-being of participants in shows such as the ITV2 reality series including, this includes preventing programmes from being broadcasted.
The measures mean that broadcasters have a duty of care for people they feature who might be at risk of harm, such as those who are not used to being in the public eye.
‘We’re talking about shows like Love Island that attract a high level of media or social-media interest, involve conflict, emotionally challenging situations, or require a person to disclose life-changing or private aspects of their lives,’ Baxter said.
‘We’ve also made clear that, before a person agrees to take part in a TV or radio show, broadcasters must properly tell them about any possible risks to their welfare, and how they’ll seek to minimise these.’
He added to the Radio Times: ‘We have the power in the most serious of cases to fine broadcasters or take away their licence to broadcast. However, we would only use these powers in the most exceptional of cases.’
Baxter stressed that Ofcom won’t be dictating what formats, issues or stories broadcasters can and can’t explore, while also assuring viewers that every single complaint is looked at to make sure both audiences and contestants are protected.
The move comes after Love Island revealed its duty of care protocols last month.
Contestants on the 2021 series will be offered ‘a minimum of eight therapy sessions’ on their return home from appearing in the series, ITV said.
All participants will also receive training on the impact of social media and ‘how to handle potential negativity’, as well as training on financial management.
In 2019 The Jeremy Kyle Show was axed from ITV’s schedules amid growing scrutiny of the duty of care that reality TV shows have to participants following the death of a contestant, and Love Island also faced criticism following the deaths of former contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis.
Contestants Chloe Burrows and Toby Aromolaran from the current series of Love Island have already received death threats, which their families published on social media.
Love Island vowed to support the cast’s friends and families in reporting such abuse.
‘We want Love Island to be a positive experience for all our cast and their friends and family members,’ they wrote in a statement shared on social media.
‘Last night’s episode created strong reactions but some viewers’ posts were wholly unacceptable. We take these matters extremely seriously and will support cast members and their families in reporting such posts.’
They added: ‘We would once again urge all our viewers to think before posting, and remember that our Islanders are people with feelings.’
Love Island continues tonight at 9pm on ITV2.
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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.
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