ITV used social media to find Jeremy Kyle guests

The Jeremy Kyle Show: guests would often take lie-detector or DNA tests
The Jeremy Kyle Show: guests would often take lie-detector or DNA tests

Chair of senior MPs finds targeted messaging 'particularly concerning' amid probe into reality TV.

The Jeremy Kyle Show used Facebook to target people who want to take a lie-detector test, ITV has revealed amid an investigation into the welfare of contestants. 

In a letter to a committee of senior MPs, ITV chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall confirmed the use of "shout-outs" on the show's Facebook page, which had more than a million followers. 

On one occasion, the show's producers paid for a Facebook post to be "boosted", but generally the show did not pay for advertising on social media to find guests.

Some messages specified that the show was looking for people to take lie-detector or DNA tests, McCall said. However, she said the ads did not target particular individuals.

Damian Collins, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, described ITV’s use of Facebook in this way as "particularly concerning". 

The committee launched the inquiry into reality TV after ITV axed The Jeremy Kyle Show in May. A guest, who appeared on the show taking a lie-detector test, was found dead on 9 May, before the episode aired.

The daytime-TV show regularly featured families in dispute over alleged fidelity or paternity claims, and guests were frequently invited to take lie-detector or DNA tests. It was a key part of ITV's daytime programming, generating £80m in ad revenue and £2m in annual sponsorship from Sun Bingo.

Writing to the select committee on 16 July, McCall wrote: "Facebook was used by the production team to post requests for people to contact the show ('shout-outs') on the programme’s own Facebook page, which had 1,191,314 followers, and on individual producters’ Jeremy Kyle show-branded Facebook pages.

"Individuals would then be able to make contact with the production team either on Facebook or via Facebook Messenger. Generally, the programme did not pay for advertising either on Facebook or any other social media platform.

"In November 2018 on one occasion the programme did use a ‘boosted’ post on Facebook, ie we paid for the post to reach a wider audience."

The programme also had a Twitter account, which was "occasionally" used for shout-outs, McCall added, and these were not paid for.

Collins said: "It is particularly concerning that the production team appeared to be specifically targeting people who were hoping to resolve a difficult personal situation. We’ve asked for copies of the ads from ITV.

"Our inquiry is considering how well-prepared people like this would have been to cope with having their private lives exposed on a public stage and what mechanisms were in place to support them. That’s why we are speaking to Dwayne Davison, a former contestant on The Jeremy Kyle Show, whose direct experience is very concerning. He will be among other former reality TV guests who have been asked to share their experiences with the committee in the autumn."


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