Sun City – M-Net will immediately implement the recommendations of a third-party investigator for its highly controversial and lowbrow Big Brother Mzansi reality show on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) and two DStv channels following an alleged rape scandal, which includes monitoring alcohol consumption more closely.
The investigation, recommendations and implementation of stricter monitoring of the Endemol Shine Africa produced show follows after the reality show was once again mired in scandal after a male contestant bragged last month about having sex with a passed out female contestant without her consent.
Endemol Shine Africa and pay-TV broadcaster M-Net then removed both from the reality show.
The male contestant bragged that he “dipped her but I don't think she remembers because she passed out". The distraught woman later told fellow contestants that she didn't consent to any sex with the man on Saturday night.
Earlier on the same night, she was pressed in-between the same man and another male contestant and were kissed and groped against her will. Both men were then cautioned by the producers about their inappropriate behaviour but were left in the house.
An evening of heavy drinking followed – the show how regularly plies contestants with alcohol who booze it up into the late hours – after which the alleged rape incident occurred.
Although the reality show house is filled with cameras, M-Net said it was not certain of exactly what happened. It's also not clear why Endemol Shine Africa producers didn't step in to intervene immediately when they could no longer see what is happening to the contestants.
M-Net was heavily criticised for how it places women in a vulnerable position, the large amount of alcohol it allows contestants of the show to consume and not doing more to protect contestants – especially women.
M-Net appointed the law firm, Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr – paid by M-Net, to investigate the incident of alleged sexual misconduct.
During last year's season of Big Brother Mzansi, M-Net called a man hitting a woman in the show "an isolated incident". M-Net told Channel24 that Endemol Shine Africa has reported the matter to the police. No charges have however been laid.
Stricter new policy measures
M-Net and Endemol Shine Africa is now – as part of new “mandatory” steps – stepping up its monitoring of Big Brother Mzansi as well as all M-Net produced reality shows.
This include on-site directors who will now intervene immediately to address any suspicious conduct “whether on-air or not” says M-Net.
“Further productions of the Big Brother shows must include a person solely responsible for risk mitigation and monitoring the ongoing well-being of housemates,” says M-Net.
“Drinking in the reality show will also be more closely monitored. Housemates must more frequently be reminded that they are responsible for making their own decisions,” says M-Net but if necessary, the producers will pro-actively intervene and take alcohol away.
Production teams will now also get in-depth legal and ethical training on possible misconduct like the alleged sexual conduct which took place.
“M-Net is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all the contestants on its reality shows,” says Yolisa Phahle, M-Net South Africa CEO. “As a responsible broadcaster, the selection and management of production companies must be undertaken with great care.”
“We will continue to provide support to the affected housemates and will work with all the relevant authorities, if requested to do so,” says Phahle.
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