Ofcom boss warns Love Island could be axed over unsatisfactory duty of care

Britain's broadcast watchdog is warning ITV2 faces being axed if it fails to care for Love Island's cast.

Ofcom's director of broadcasting standards Adam Baxter says the group is scrutinising the channel's reality TV output harder than ever in the wake of the suicides of Love Island's Mike Thalassitis, Sophie Gradon, and Caroline Flack.

He spoke out as Love Island viewers vowed to complain to the group about the "cruel" sidelining of disabled contestant Hugo Hammond during a recent challenge.

Mr Baxter pledged: "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.

"We have the power in the most serious of cases to fine broadcasters or take away their licence to broadcast."

The Ofcom exec conceded it would only use the power to pull a channel's broadcast licence "in the most exceptional of cases", as it wants to protect "freedom of expression".

But he warned the body was this year expecting to be hit with "high volumes" of viewer objections to the likes of Love Island due to ITV's glut of reality TV programming.

Mr Baxter added: "While we cannot guarantee true love for the cast of Love Island, we can assure viewers that each and every complaint is carefully looked at."

Ofcom this year launched a string of new "protocols" in April to protect reality TV participants after Love Island was hit by a trio of tragedies.

The suicides of cast members Mike Thalassitis, 26, in 2019, and Sophie Gradon, 32, a year earlier were partly blamed on trolls attacking the contestants and a lack of "aftercare" from ITV.

Bosses at the channel were also slammed for not giving Love Island host Caroline Flack enough support before her 2020 suicide aged 40 after she lost her job over an accusation she assaulted boyfriend Lewis Burton, 29.

This year's Love Island was hit by almost 100 complaints to Ofcom in its first week on air.

Most of them were about the brutal dumping of Daily Star page 3 girl Ruby – real name Shannon Singh, 22 – only 48 hours into the show.

Viewers have also blasted this year's show for not featuring a diverse enough cast.

They are also continuing an online campaign to hit Ofcom with masses of complaints after cast member Hugo, 24 – born with a club foot – was brutally "overlooked" in a cops-and-robbers-themed challenge called Line Of Booty.

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.

Source: Read Full Article