Health Ministry head: Cancel ‘Big Brother' show
Gamzu tells 'Post' reality program is "disgusting and should not be broadcast," but if it is, medical team must observe code of ethics.
Big Brother participants Photo: Courtesy Mako website
Health Ministry director-general Prof. Ronni Gamzu told The Jerusalem Post on
Monday. Television reality shows like Keshet’s Israeli version of Big Brother
are “disgusting and should not be broadcast,” But if the show is not barred by
the Channel 2 Authority, he said, the medical staffers hired by the show’s
production company have to observe a code of ethics.
In Big Brother,
whose broadcast in the coming year has not yet been approved despite its very
high ratings, two dozen participants are locked up in a villa for months without
connections to the outside world as they try to eliminate the others so they can
earn a million-shekel prize.
Last season, participants accused Dr. Ilan
Rabinovich – a psychiatrist – of giving them psychoactive drugs of which they
were unaware and causing their state of mind to deteriorate.
stated that a committee he appointed to heard both sides examined the evidence
and found that Rabinovich “did not find the need at this point” to establish a
medical committee to determine medical negligence and possible
“The committee did not find that he violated medical ethics
or committed violations. But it is true that he looked bad in the media,”
“Keshet has to be more and better supervision,” he
At the director-general’s order, ministry officials formulated
guidelines of principles for medical personnel working for reality shows. He
also asked for an ethical code.
According to the Dr. Gadi Lubin and
others who prepared the document, reality shows involve “significant pressure”
on participants with short- and long-term dangers.
“The candidates for
participation must be aware of the possible damage to his mental and even
physical condition,” it said. The TV company has direct responsibility for their
physical and emotional health, and the medical personnel must have no other
considerations than medical ones.
Participants must undergo careful
examination to determine if they are emotionally strong enough to be on the
show. This must override the desire for ratings to determine who takes part, the
document said. The team of medical professionals needs freedom of action and
authority to make the final decisions. The participants have to sign a document
with the production and TV companies stating that they know taking part will
mean a “drastic change” in their lives and disconnection for their national
support system of family and friends.
This could lead to ‘significant
mental crisis, and sometimes physical ones. Your decision to participate
expresses a personal choice that means conscious consent to exposure to this
risk,” says the document.
Participants and representatives of the
companies must meet regularly to assess possible emotional or physical
conditions and whether they are reaching a crisis, the document said, in which
crisis help must be given -- including a decision to leave the show. The
participants‚ privacy and honor must be respected and guarded, and the
production company may be told only if the participant agrees fully and if there
is a need for this, it continued.
After the show ends, if necessary,
participants must continue to be followed and treated emotionally and physically
if necessary, the ministry stated.
It is not known whether Gamzu's
statement that Rabinovich was not found to violate medical ethics rules would
make it possible for Big Brother to run its new season.