British commercial broadcaster ITV has laid out new guidelines for protecting participants in the company’s programming.
The guidelines are meant to help manage and support the mental health and well-being of program participants before, during and after production. The processes and guidance, which have rolled out in ITV Studios over the last year, were developed with the assistance of Dr. Paul Litchfield.
ITV makes specific mention of the proposed new Ofcom rules in relation to protecting adult participants.
The UK parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee (DCMS) launched an inquiry last May into reality television production practices — specifically, “production companies’ duty of care to participants” — in the wake of the death of a guest taking part in an episode of tabloid talk show The Jeremy Kyle Show, and the deaths of two former contestants of hit competition series Love Island.
Both programs air via the ITV network and are produced by ITV Studios, with Love Island co-produced by Motion Content Group.
The guidelines also include sections on informed consent, mental health awareness, risk assessment and management, and more.
The document lays out accountability structures for medium- or high-risk productions, giving producers a clear pathway to discussing measures with commissioners and lawyers.
The guidelines will apply to programs made both by ITV’s own ITV Studios production house and third party suppliers.
In a release, ITV’s director of television Kevin Lygo offered context for the new guidelines. His full statement appears below:
The health and safety of everyone who takes part in our programmes is our highest priority, which is why we are sharing our best practice guidelines with producers.
This is not intended to be prescriptive but is draft guidance we are rolling out to all producers working with ITV, so we have a framework for the discussion around what the levels of risk might be and what proportionate processes producers therefore may need to have in place.
We and our producers already have comprehensive duty of care processes in place which reflect our knowledge and experience of making shows featuring members of the public. As these programmes have evolved, so have the pressures on those entering the public eye through appearing in our shows, from media and social media interest. To continue to make television that reflects and represents a wide and diverse range of people who want to take part, we need to ensure those people are aware of the implications – both positive and negative – that appearing on TV can lead to, so they can make an informed decision on their participation.
We believe that television is all the better for the energy, talent and diversity of the people who share their experiences, lives and stories with the nation, and this guidance offers a framework for discussion with producers of how best practice can be achieved in making shows for our network, for the benefit of all.
(with files from Barry Walsh)