From Gogglebox to The Bachelor, Married At First Sight to House Rules, our TVs are seemingly full of reality TV. It should come as no surprise that reality TV has grown to be one of the most popular categories of TV programmes, with 40% of people regularly watching some type of reality TV.
Alongside this growth in popularity, many people now aspire to become reality TV “stars”. These “stars” get paid to appear on reality TV shows, usually within the range of $100 to $150 a day, and are required to sign contracts clearly stating that they are not “employees”. Nonetheless, according to the Workers Compensation Commission in NSW, reality contestants are employees, regardless of what their contracts say, and TV networks may be liable for their injuries.
Nicole Price appeared on House Rules in 2017 and was instantly portrayed as a “villain” in the show. This led to bullying and abuse on social media, which in turn led to psychological injuries. As such, Ms Price claimed Workers Compensation benefits from Channel Seven.
The Workers Compensation Commission held that Ms Price was an employee, regardless of the term in the contract she signed, because of the nature of her relationship with Channel 7, and her contractual obligations and benefits. The Commission also found that she had sustained a psychological injury due to her portrayal by the reality programme and ordered Channel Seven to pay her Workers Compensation benefits.
This decision opens the door for similar claims to be filed by reality TV contestants. It seems that on every reality TV show, there is a token villain, who often suffers abuse once the programme airs.
In light of this decision, television networks may be susceptible to claims from other reality “stars” who assert that they were unfairly edited and depicted. Several other former reality contestants have already floated the possibility of starting legal action, including multiple former contestants from Married At First Sight.
It will be interesting to see if any of these “stars” follow in the tracks of Nicole Price and whether the television networks will change the way reality TV is produced. But don’t hold your breath!
The contents of this publication are for reference purposes only. This publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Specific legal advice should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.