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Ofcom explains why it has introduced "new protections" for shows like Love Island

The contestants' wellbeing is at the heart of new guidelines.

Chloe and Hugo in Love Island
Published: Monday, 12th July 2021 at 9:00 pm

Love Island is a sunny escape for many viewers, especially those looking for a fun alternative to a summer of sport. But the show has also courted its fair share of controversies over the years, with concern for islanders' mental health.

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Writing in this week's Radio Times magazine, Ofcom's Director of Broadcasting Standards, Adam Baxter explains that the regulator has been forced to respond to the rise of shows like Love Island as it monitors each series.

As reality formats have changed and evolved over the years, so too has the guidance for programme makers, and Baxter reveals that there are "new protections" in place this year for the Love Island 2021 contestants.

Responding to growing numbers of complaints about the islanders' wellbeing, Ofcom has taken action to help ensure their safety. "New protections" are in place to make sure their welfare is taken into consideration.

"Specifically, this means that broadcasters now have to take due care of people they feature who might be at risk of significant harm; primarily vulnerable people and those not used to being in the public eye," writes Baxter.

"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. 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. It should also be made clear to viewers watching at home how the programme is taking care of the people they feature."

Baxter goes on to explain that if these guidelines are breached, Ofcom is able to issue fines, or even take away a channel's licence to broadcast. However they would only step in if they were to encounter an exceptional circumstance. He also points out that Ofcom doesn't want to 'restrict creative freedom' but that he is anticipating more complaints about this year's Love Island.

"If previous years are anything to go by, we’re likely to continue to receive high volumes of complaints about reality TV – though this doesn’t automatically mean that broadcasters have fallen short of our rules or protections. While we cannot guarantee true love for the cast of Love Island, we can assure viewers that each and every complaint is carefully looked at, to check that audiences and people appearing in programmes are being properly protected."

For more information on this story, read the full piece in this week's issue of Radio Times magazine, out tomorrow (13th July).

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Love Island is on every day on ITV2 at 9pm, except Saturday. Episodes are available to stream on the ITV Hub. For more info check out Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Facebook. While you’re waiting, check out more of our Entertainment coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight.

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