How much alcohol should you drink on a reality TV set?
How many hours should a participant film before having a break?
What is the minimum age that children must be accepted into talent shows?
These are questions I raised at the Screen Forever conference recently when I asked if it’s time the genre had a code of conduct for how it does television.
In theatre, actors are represented by agents. Crews work under a set of MEAA conditions and a safe workplace code of conduct introduced after #MeToo.
But in reality TV where the contestants have no television experience, and no representation, who is there to defend them when things go wrong?
In the UK, which has suffered devastating fallout on the island of love, the industry has revised its duty of care. ITV has issued clear guidelines for psychological support, financial advice, social media management, GP reports – even requiring family consultation before casting.
Adrian Swift, head of content, production and development at Nine, said conversations around duty of care were ongoing and a priority.
“In response to your question about a code of conduct, my response would be this.
“I think every production company, every network needs to have a demonstrable structure to take care of the participants. A publishable framework, if you will, to take care of the participants,” he said.
“We do that in every one of our shows, which has been developed with a lot of time and effort. Due diligence is a huge issue and we won’t always get it right. I know we don’t always get it right and people often feel like we’re fundamentally wrong. But we try to do it right. We truly believe that we have processes in place to look after our program participants. And it’s very often very different from one show to another.
On the issue of alcohol used on set, he added, “A drunk participant on one of our shows is always a problem. We have to cut them out or go around them. We don’t want drunk people on our shows. We don’t want people to get out of control on our shows. So we try, as far as possible, to ensure that this does not happen. On occasion, participants will “pre-load”, to use an expression where we have no mandate on their consumption. »
The productions also try to make the participants understand what they are getting into.
“We try to be as transparent as possible. Nobody believes us.