TV’s watchdog should take action against reality show Love Island because contestants risk glamorising smoking for young people, a peer has claimed.
Lord Storey urged Ofcom to intervene over the ITV2 dating programme, as he expressed fears over the “message” sent to under-18s by participants who are “regularly smoking”.
The Liberal Democrat peer used question time in the House of Lords to challenge the Government over whether they will “strengthen the broadcasting code in relation to smoking on reality TV shows, particularly those aimed at young people”.
Quizzing culture minister Lord Ashton of Hyde, the former headteacher said: “I don’t know if he’s a regular watcher of Love Island, but if he were to look at the ITV website it describes Love Island as an emotional feast of lust and passion in the sun.
“The same website says that this programme captures 56% share of the 16 to 34-year-olds.
“On this programme those contestants are regularly smoking.
“What message does that say to young people? ‘That I can live a glamorous life if I smoke as well’.”
“I’m surprised that Ofcom’s broadcasting code says that smoking must not be glamorised in programmes likely to be seen widely or heard by under-18s unless there is editorial justification.
“Doesn’t the minister think that Ofcom should really take action in this matter?”
In response, Tory peer Lord Ashton claimed he is “not a regular watcher” of the hit show, but jokingly noted the House was “unusually full” for the exchanges.
As an independent regulator, the peer said decisions on amending the broadcasting code are “rightly a matter for Ofcom”.
“The broadcasting code is there to be regulated by Ofcom, that’s what we put Ofcom there for,” added Lord Ashton.
“Any complaints about any programme will be investigated by Ofcom and, of course, it’s up to anyone who has got concerns about smoking in this programme to complain to Ofcom.
“Incidentally, just to put it in perspective, Ofcom had just under 15,000 complaints last year and 75 related to smoking on Love Island.”
The final episode of the latest series of Love Island, which sees contestants couple up with each other in order to avoid elimination, was watched by an average 2.6million viewers.
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