Ofcom boss warns ITV could lose their broadcasting licence if they fail to protect Love Island contestants well-being following slew of show tragedies
- Adam Baxter said Ofcom has changed regulations to protect show participants
- Shows and channels shown not to be safeguarding could be stripped of licence
- Comes after Love Island come under scrutiny after the deaths of former Islanders Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis who took their lives after the show
- Host Caroline Flack died from suicide in February 2020
- Shows must now properly inform people of the risks to well-being when appearing on a television or radio show
- Latest Love Island news and updates from the Series 7 contestants right here
An Ofcom boss has warned Love Island and other shows could be stripped of their broadcasting licences if they fail to protect contestants well-being.
Adam Baxter, Ofcom’s director of broadcasting standards, said the regulatory body has put in place new regulations to protect participants in shows which could result, in, in extreme cases, channels being taken off-air.
Love Island has come under scrutiny for not safeguarding previous contestants after former Islanders Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis took their own lives after appearing on the show.
Protecting contestants: An Ofcom boss has warned Love Island and other shows could be stripped of their broadcasting licences if they fail to protect contestants well-being Pictured: Rachel Finni dumped from the villa in Monday night’s episode
Speaking to the Radio Times, Mr Baxter said the changes in regulations means broadcasters ‘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’.
He added: ‘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.’
Before appearing on a television or radio show, broadcasters must now also properly explain to people how it may pose a risk to their welfare and what they are doing to minimise the risks.
Well-being: Mr Baxter said: ‘We’re talking about shows like Love Island that attract a high level of media or social-media interest, involve conflict, emotionally challenging situations’ Pictured: late show host Caroline Flack
Mr Baxter continued: ‘It should also be made clear to viewers watching at home how the programme is taking care of the people they feature.
‘We have the power in the most serious of cases to fine broadcasters or take away their licence to broadcast.’
It comes after current Love Island star Chloe Burrows’ family revealed they’re working with police to track down the perpetrators behind shocking death threats directed at the beauty.
ITV bosses were forced to take action after Chloe, 25, was subjected to death threats by trolls just three days into the new series of the dating show airing.
In a statement, Chloe’s ‘extremely disappointed and saddened’ loved ones revealed they’re taking legal action, while insisting: ‘This cannot continue.’
Taking action: Love Island star Chloe Burrows’ family revealed they’re working with police to track down the perpetrators behind shocking death threats directed at the beauty
The statement read: ‘As the family and friends of Chloe, we would like to let you all know that we are extremely disappointed and saddened by the recent threats made towards Chloe.
‘To receive death threats and see the malicious vitriol that exists online first-hand is incredibly distressing and we are apprehensive for Chloe to leave the villa and observe this herself.
‘What saddens us the most is the fact that as a digital society we appear to have normalised this type of behaviour, accepting that “these things happen”.
‘This cannot continue. We must stand tall together and demand change from online platforms like Instagram, to safe guard our loved ones when they need it most.
‘We will be doing everything in our power to protect Chloe and will support Thames Valley Police in their efforts to track down these perpetrators.’
The statement continued: ‘We would like to thank the fans of the show that have shown their support for Chloe over the past couple of days, we see all the messages of love and we are so grateful.
‘A big thank you must also go to the team at ITV2 for their support at this hard time. Finally we are asking you all, as fans of the show, to show love and respect to all of the contestants and their families.
‘We are all human, we all get things wrong – and remember, this is a TV show, nothing more, nothing less. #BeKind.’
Think twice: Love Island bosses issued a statement urging people to ‘think before they post’ after Chloe was subjected to death threats just three days into the show
Before the show returned to screen last month Love Island bosses issued a warning urging viewers to ‘think before they post’ about contestants on social media in a bid to clamp down on trolling.
Chloe’s family made a plea for viewers to ‘Be Kind’ as they asked: ‘Have the deaths of Sophie [Gradon], Mike [Thalassitis] and Caroline [Flack] taught us nothing?’
Responding to the excessive trolling Chloe has received, Love Island posted a statement to its official Instagram page — insisting the extreme reactions of some viewers were ‘wholly unacceptable’.
They warned that they take such matters ‘extremely serious’ and will fully support contestants and their families in reporting abusive messages.
Shock: Chloe, 25, picked Aaron Francis, 24, (pictured together) to couple up with, meaning Shannon Singh, 22, was left single and sent home in a shock dumping
The statement read: ‘We want Love Island to be a positive experience for all our cast and their friends and family members.
‘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.’
It continued: ‘We would once again urge all of our viewers to think before posting, and remember that our Islanders are people with feelings.’
Leaving: Shannon is the earliest ever Islander to be dumped from the villa and later shared her shock at being sent home after just three days
It came after Chloe’s family — manning her social media accounts while she is in the villa — revealed she has been targeted with hundreds of vile death threats after appearing on the show for just three days.
The blonde beauty had picked Aaron Francis, 24, to couple up with, meaning Shannon Singh, 22, was left single and sent home in a shock dumping — prompting trolls to send messages to Chloe’s social media accounts.
Sharing a statement and example of a message, her friends and family wrote: ‘We hate to introduce ourselves under such vile circumstances but we’ve had enough, after just 3 episodes.
‘We all have thick skin but the amount of trolling Chloe has been receiving is absolutely disgusting. This morning we woke up to yet another DM encouraging Chloe to kill herself – there have been HUNDREDS.
‘Have the deaths of Sophie, Mike and Caroline taught us nothing? Not only that, but people are flooding her inbox threatening to kill her themselves. People… this is a GAME show, there is a cash prize!’
They continued: ‘We understand the frustration surrounding @shannonsinghhh ‘s eviction – we feel it too! She didn’t deserve to leave so early but Chloe does not deserve to DIE because Shannon had to leave the villa!
‘She will have had no idea of the repercussions of her decision prior to making it.’
Statement: ‘Have the deaths of Sophie, Mike and Caroline taught us nothing?’ Chloe’s family and friends took to Instagram to beg viewers to be kind going forward with the reality show
Ending their plea, they wrote: ‘We are not naive. We know that this post won’t put an end to trolling. All the advice we get is to ‘ignore it’ and ‘block the trolls’, sometimes it’s not that easy. Our hope is that this just reminds some of you to #BeKind x.’
The series has become known to attract trolls online, and many former Islanders have slammed the show, claiming they have suffered with mental health issues after taking part on it.
Two past contestants have died by suicide, as well as the show’s former host Caroline Flack.
Vile: They also posted an example of one of the disgusting messages sent to Chloe by a troll
Sophie Gradon, who was 32, died by suicide in 2018, while Mike Thalassitis died the following year aged 26.
Both had starred on Love Island, with Sophie appearing on series two of the reality series and Mike starring on the show’s third season.
Host Caroline was 40 years old when she took her life in February 2020.
Ahead of the new series, a message on the Love Island’s Instagram account read: ‘You’ve got a text! These Islanders are all single and ready to find love. We can’t wait to watch them get to know each other, date, and maybe even find the one.
Stern reminder: Love Island bosses had warned viewers to ‘think before you post’ during the new series in an Instagram post ahead of the show starting on Monday
‘We’re so grateful they’re letting us follow their journey this summer. We hope you enjoy the show, but please think before you post.’
Host Laura Whitmore and narrator husband Iain Stirling shared the same message.
Ahead of the show starting, Love Island execs also confirmed the show’s duty of care protocols.
Devastating: In February 2020, the host of Love Island, Caroline, was found dead at her home after taking her own life (pictured in 2019)
Dr. Paul Litchfield, who ITV appointed in 2018 to review the show’s participant welfare processes, said: ‘Society’s appreciation of the importance of mental health and wellbeing has grown enormously in recent years and the pandemic has brought that into even sharper focus.
‘Reducing the risk of harm, where possible, is an imperative but promoting good mental health is also necessary. ITV’s evolving commitment to these issues, backed up by tangible action, is an example to others in the industry and beyond.’
The process for ‘all contributors involved’ in the show includes ‘comprehensive psychological support’ and ‘training for all Islanders on the impacts of social media and handling potential negativity’.
They will also receive ‘training for all Islanders on financial management’, as well as ‘guidance and advice on taking on management after the show’.
Heartbreaking: Sophie Gradon, who was 32, died by suicide in 2018, after being a contestant on the show in 2016 (pictured in a promo shot for her stint on Love Island)
Tragic: Mike Thalassitis, who was 26, died by suicide in March 2019 after taking part in Love Island in 2017 (pictured in his official Love Island picture)
There will also be ‘detailed conversations’ with contestants about the ‘impact of participation on the show’, as well as a ‘proactive aftercare package’ which promises to support Islanders once filming has ended with ‘proactive contact’ and extra support where necessary.
ITV has confirmed that registered mental health professionals will be available for Love Island stars throughout the entire series, from pre-filming, during the show itself and as part of the aftercare.
What’s more, there will be a welfare team during and after the show, and the senior team in Majorca has mental health first aid training.
Love Island duty of care protocols in full – ahead of 2021 series
Pre-filming and filming
- Registered mental health professional engaged throughout the whole series – from pre-filming to aftercare.
- Thorough pre-filming psychological and medical assessments including assessments by an independent doctor, psychological consultant and reports from each Islander’s own GP to check medical history.
- Potential Islanders are required to fully disclose any medical history that would be relevant to their inclusion in the villa and the production’s ability to provide a suitable environment for them.
- Managing cast expectations: detailed explanations both verbally and in writing of the implications, both positive and negative, of taking part in the series are given to potential cast members throughout the casting process and reinforced within the contract so it is clear.
- Cast are told they should consider all the potential implications of taking part in the show and work through this decision-making process in consultation with their family and those closest to them, to ensure they feel it is right for them.
- Senior Team on the ground have received training in Mental Health First Aid.
- A welfare team solely dedicated to the Islanders both during the show and after.
- Bespoke training on dealing with social media and advice on finance and adjusting to life back home.
- A minimum of eight therapy sessions will be offered to each Islander when they return home.
- Proactive contact with Islanders for a period of 14 months after the series in which they have appeared has ended, with additional help provided where applicable.
- We encourage Islanders to secure management to represent them after the show and manage them should they choose to take part in other TV shows, advertising campaigns or other public appearance opportunities.
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