Ofcom gives Love Island 2021 new information rule to protect stars and viewers

Love Island contestants and viewers will be "protected" during the 2021 series, following a set of new rules issued by Ofcom and ITV.

Producers of the ITV2 dating show have introduced a raft of measures to support participants before, during and after filming.

These include psychological support from a mental health professional, training on financial management and social media and a full aftercare package.

ITV said its measures are regularly reviewed and "evolve in line with the increasing popularity of the show".

Ofcom brought in tougher rules requiring broadcasters in April this year to protect the mental health and wellbeing of participants on their shows.

It said "the level of social media and media attention around the islanders" was also a factor in how its protocols developed.

The impact of fame on the mental health of contestants and the aftercare offered to them have come under increased scrutiny in recent years.

The intervention came amid a rising number of complaints and followed the deaths of former Love Island contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassits and host Caroline Flack.

Broadcasters must adopt a duty of care over people taking part on their shows, according to the new rules.

Viewers will also be protected as part of the new regulations set out by the broadcasting watchdog regulators.

Adam Baxter, Ofcom's director of standards and audience protection, told Daily Star: "My hunch is that actually a lot of the changes will be going on behind the scenes in terms of the processes.

"The ordinary punter who's watching the programme will have no idea of that, and nor necessarily should they, other than occasionally from time to time.

"There's been issues over the years with the formats when a contestant is shown upset or distressed, it could cause potential offence to the viewing public because they've seen the contestant put in a difficult position so one of rules we've slightly tweaked is actually much more to the audience than to the participants themselves.

"We have a rule where we basically say any offensive content must be justified by the context."

He continued: "Context is anything from audience expectations, time of viewing, type of channel.

"At the end of the rule it says 'appropriate information should also be broadcast where it would assist in avoiding or minimising offence'

"In this area of reality shows what we would expect is if a participant was shown in a particularly distressing situation, we hoped the broadcaster would actually show what sort of support they've received at the time.

"For example, it might be rolling it into the storyline of the next day's programme. Often on Big Brother, Big Brother would say 'following this incident the contestant was offered support or time out and given access to help'."

Ofcom received more than 2,500 complaints over a video shown to former contestant of Dani Dyer during her time in the villa back in 2018.

A heartbroken Dani was shown a misleading video of boyfriend Jack Fincham when they were forced to stay in separate villas during the dramatic Casa Amor task.

She burst into tears as she watched the video of her partner react with shock at seeing his ex, Ellie Jones, arrive in his villa.

The regulator says that the new reforms are aimed at "protecting vulnerable people and others not used to being in the public eye".

Its guidance on fairness is being expanded to make sure that broadcasters take particular care of people likely to develop a high level of media interest following an appearance on TV.

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ITV confirmed in March that Love Island would return to screens this summer, nearly 18 months since it was last on air.

Discussing whether or not some of the controversial challenges, including when contestants read tweets about themselves from the members of the public, will be forced to be removed from the show under the new rules, Adam said: "I think the point about the broadcasting code in general is that we are not in the business of making editorial decisions.

'It's really hard to know if Love Island will look any different."

Love Island returns to ITV2 and ITVHub on Monday June 28 at 9pm

For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

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