Statement: Protecting participants in TV and radio programmes

  • Start: 13 March 2020
  • Status: Statement published
  • End: 07 July 2020

Statement published 18 December 2020

In recent years, Ofcom has seen a steady rise in complaints about the mental health and wellbeing of programme participants, reflecting society’s growing openness and concern about these issues. In 2019, we launched a review of our protections for programme participants with 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 uncontextualised offence that can arise from seeing or hearing vulnerable participants in programmes whose welfare they think might not have been protected.

As part of this review, we proposed to amend the Broadcasting Code to introduce new provisions targeted at achieving these objectives in a flexible and proportionate way. This document sets out our decision following our consultations of 29 July 2019 and 13 March 2020.

We received broad support from stakeholders for our intention to introduce protections for participants in programmes. After carefully considering all the responses to both consultations we have decided to amend Section Seven of the Code to introduce two new Practices to Follow to ensure that broadcasters take due care of people who may be at risk of significant harm due to their participation in programmes.

We have also amended Rule 2.3 in Section Two (Harm and Offence) of the Code to make clear that the rule also protects audiences from any potential offence arising from viewing the treatment of people who appear to be put at risk of significant harm as a result of their taking part in programmes where there is insufficient context.

Following the responses we received to our first consultation, we have also made minor amendments to the wording of Rules 1.28 and 1.29, relating to the due care of under-eighteens.

Main documents

Supporting documents

loading icon


Responder name Type
[Response to further consultation] Autonomous Non-Profit Organisation (ANO) TV Novosti (PDF File, 224.7 KB) Organisation
[Response to further consultation] BBC (PDF File, 253.5 KB) Organisation
[Response to further consultation] British Psychological Society (BPS) (PDF File, 161.6 KB) Organisation
[Response to further consultation] Channel 4 (PDF File, 200.9 KB) Organisation
[Response to further consultation] Directors UK (PDF File, 287.7 KB) Organisation
Load more