Following media, public and parliamentary scrutiny of its practices in the wake of the suicide of a participant in British tabloid talk show The Jeremy Kyle Show, UK commercial PSB ITV has outlined its guidelines on protecting participants in programmes made for broadcast on ITV, whether made by its own ITV Studios production house or third party suppliers.
Earlier in 2019, ITV Studios introduced, throughout its content making business, refreshed processes and guidance to manage and support the mental health and well-being of programme participants before, during and after production. The processes and guidance rolled out in ITV Studios were developed with the assistance of Dr Paul Litchfield CBE.
Alongside ITV’s Duty of Care Charter, which details its commitment to the care it takes for the physical and mental health and well-being of those participating in its productions, ITV has now integrated the key elements implemented within ITV Studios into its updated producer guidelines for all programme suppliers, to outline what ITV considers best practice.
This guidance includes reference to the proposed new Ofcom rules in relation to protecting adult participants.
“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,” stated Kevin Lygo, ITV’s Director of Television.
“This is not intended to be prescriptive but is draft guidance we are rolling out to all producers working with ITV, so we have a framework for the discussion around what the levels of risk might be and what proportionate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.”
“Pact and its members take the welfare and protection of programme participants very seriously, and we welcome ITV sharing its best practice guidelines with producers,” added John McVay, Chief Executive of independent producers trade body PACT.
The updated guidelines set out a framework for assessing welfare and mental health risks for participants, identifying six general factors to be considered.
The guidelines also include information on measures that ITV suggests producers should consider putting in place to address welfare and mental health risks. Any measures or processes should be proportionate to the likely risks, given factors such as the programme format and the individuals concerned, and this continues to be taken into account when discussing programme commissions and considering the method and cost of production.
Where productions have medium or higher risk elements, producers should discuss their participant protection processes with their ITV commissioner and the ITV compliance lawyer or advisor allocated to their programme. This should cover periods of pre-production and casting, the period of production and broadcast of the programme and, where appropriate and proportionate, post production and broadcast. It may also involve the need to engage expert psychological advice and support.
Medium or higher risk productions should have a written risk management plan and processes/protocols in place for protecting the welfare of programme participants, which should be shared with ITV. Regular reporting of risk in programmes and the control measures introduced is a key element of risk reporting within ITV.