If you’re considering becoming a contestant on a reality TV show, there’s some things that you need to consider, and they aren’t just limited reputational.
Reality television has been ever-present in Australian culture since the premiere of the much-loved (at least back then!) Big Brother in 2001, to the introduction of a raft of new and highly popular cooking, dating, fitness, survival and lifestyle programs, reality TV is a hugely influential and widely-watched form of entertainment.
If you’re considering being a contestant on a reality show and are prepared to go through the application process; the endless hours of interviews; psychometric, pheromone and personality testing (done for some shows); mental health screening and the audition process, here’s some things to consider:
Being a contestant on a reality television show can be a rewarding and exciting experience, and may also lead to new opportunities. However, there are several drawbacks to keep in mind.
For example, you may experience an invasion of privacy, as your personal life may be exposed. Think: along the lines of scorned ex-lovers who come out of the woodwork. This can be exacerbated by issues of misinformation or editing that can portray contestants in a negative light. Take note MAFS participants!
On top of this, many reality television shows require contestants to sign various non-disclosure agreements that can bind them to certain stipulations, such as barring them from speaking out about fellow contestants, the production or their experiences on the show. Finally, contestants may be subject to criticism from viewers who see them as participating only for attention, fame or money.
So, with this in mind, here’s our Top 5 tips if you are considering becoming a contestant on a reality show:
- It is important to read the terms of the contract issued by the production company. These terms of engagement will set out the rights and obligations of all parties, including participants, and will list what can and cannot be done before, on and after the show. The contract will generally require you to ‘hand over’ your social media accounts, will specify permitted work commitments, promotional opportunities, etc. Most of the time these contracts stipulate that all information disclosed by the participant during the show is owned by the production company. Therefore, you must ensure that you are comfortable with the conditions before signing.
- Understand the privacy and confidentiality obligations of your participation. You may be required to keep sensitive information, such as personal and contact details, confidential. Therefore, ensure that you are aware of and adhere to any confidentiality requirements.
- Consent must be obtained from all contestants on the show, including any minors where parental or guardian consent forms will also need to be signed. Also, keep in mind that the production company may be recording and using footage of you for promotional purposes even after the show is over. Therefore, you should check if permission is still required for any further use of the recording.
- Be careful what you say on camera. You must be aware of potential defamation claims. The law of defamation protects an individual’s reputation from false and damaging information being disseminated about them. Thus, ensure that you are not placed in a position where slanderous or defamatory comments could be made or interpreted to have been made.
- Recognise that Producers and employees of the production company are not your friends. Production company staff are employed to make great TV, and some a really good at it. They will do and say what’s required to make you a ‘good contestant’ that translates to ‘good TV’. How often do you hear reality contestants say “It’s the edit” or “I got a bad edit”. That’s the risk you take and you need to be comfortable that the show may potentially portray your unfavourably.
If you are unsure about anything in the contracts or documents you are being asked to agree to and sign, get some advice. Our business lawyers can help.