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Broadcasters Are Now Required To Take Better Care Of TV Stars’ Mental Health Under New Ofcom Rules

by : Cameron Frew on : 05 Apr 2021 10:10
Broadcasters Are Now Required To Take Better Care Of TV Stars' Mental Health Under New Ofcom RulesPA Images

New Ofcom rules require UK broadcasters to take ‘due care’ of the mental health of TV stars. 

Mental health has been a major hotspot for Ofcom complaints of late, particularly with Piers Morgan’s disrespectful comments towards Meghan Markle’s claims stemming from her interview with Oprah.

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The new rules also follow the tragic deaths of Love Island stars Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon, presenter Caroline Flack and former Jeremy Kyle participant Steve Dymond, all of whom took their own lives following appearances on their respective shows.

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With a steady flow of criticism regarding how much attention is paid to the health and wellbeing of TV and radio stars, the communications regulator has announced new rules for broadcasters.

As reported by Sky News, the new rules – which come into force today, April 5 – outline that broadcasters must take ‘due care’ over the welfare of people, whether they’re presenters or contestants, who ‘might be at risk of significant harm as a result of taking part in a programme’.

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Ofcom announced a review of its protections for programme participants back in 2019, later confirming a number of its regulations would soon be strengthened.

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As per the Carson McDowell law firm, the rules now state that contibutors to TV and radio shows should be ‘informed about potential risks arising from their participation in the programme which may affect their welfare (insofar as these can be reasonably anticipated at the time) and any steps the broadcaster and/or programme maker intends to take to mitigate these’.

These risks include heightened attention online and offline and the possibility of being encouraged to disclose details regarding their private lives. It’s hoped this will allow contributors a wider lens of what could follow if they wish to take part.

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They also state, ‘Broadcasters should take due care over the welfare of a contributor who might be at risk of significant harm as a result of taking part in a programme, except where the subject matter is trivial or their participation minor.’

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Adam Baxter, 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.’

Luke Marsden, a former Big Brother contestant, told the outlet, ‘I’m failing to see what the difference is. It’s saying what already should be being done.’

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If you’re experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. They’re open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0800 58 58 58 and they also have a webchat service if you’re not comfortable talking on the phone

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BJTC-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and taken up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: Film and TV, Mental Health, Now, UK

Credits

Sky News and 1 other
  1. Sky News

    New Ofcom protections for TV contestants require broadcasters to take 'due care' over mental health

  2. Carson McDowell

    Ofcom implements new rules to protect the welfare of TV and radio participants