Insights Ofcom announces new protections for people taking part in TV and radio shows


People taking part in TV and radio programmes must be properly looked after by broadcasters, under new measures introduced by Ofcom.

Ofcom launched a review of protections for participants in programmes in recognition of the growing openness and concern in society about mental health and wellbeing. The review had the following objectives:

  • to make sure the welfare of people who take part in television and radio programmes is protected; and
  • to make sure audiences are protected from un-contextualised offence that can arise from seeing or hearing vulnerable participants in programmes whose welfare they think might not have been protected.

As part of the review, Ofcom proposed to amend the Broadcasting Code to introduce new provisions targeted at achieving these objectives in a flexible and proportionate way. Ofcom says that it has also seen a steady rise in complaints about the welfare of people taking part in programmes in recent years.

Following consultation with broadcasters, programme-makers, healthcare professionals, and former programme participants and their representatives, Ofcom is introducing a range of new protections. These include, among other things, a new requirement for broadcasters to take due care over the welfare of people who might be at risk of significant harm as a result of taking part in a programme.

The measures will apply to programmes that begin production on or after Monday 5 April 2021. Ahead of that date, Ofcom will publish associated guidance for broadcasters to help them to comply with the new requirements. To read Ofcom’s news release in full and for a link to the changes to the Code, click here.