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Friday, 12 December 2003

DOES PROGRAMME NAME-CHANGE DEFAME PARTICIPANT?

Peter Watt, a student and one of 12 unemployed men who agreed to participate in a reality TV documentary called “Back to Work”, is threatening to sue programme makers after the title of the show was changed to “Born Idle”. The 12 were to be filmed as they attempted to return to employment. But Watt, of Jarrow, South Tyneside, says he was horrified to receive a letter from makers Lion TV saying that the title had been changed to “Born Idle”. The programme involved the 12 being taken to a "boot camp" which was run by a group of trainers dressed as US marines. Watt is consulting lawyers in an attempt to prevent the programme's transmission on 6 January. Watt, now a catering student at South Tyneside College, said: "What chance will I have of getting a job after being labelled born idle on national TV? It's a disgraceful slur". David Upsal, the programme's executive producer, admitted the title had been changed after negotiations with the BBC and conceded that it was "provocative". He said: "It was chosen because it is snappier and more likely to attract the attention of potential viewers". He added that six of the participants had found work as a result of the experience.

The IPKat feels that any consent obtained for the inclusion of Mr Watt’s performance in “Back to Work” in a recorded work, which is required under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, would be vitiated by virtue of the programme’s name change. The name-change might make the programme more popular, but it does a disservice to its participants.

“Back to work” here and here and here
“Born idle” here; bone idle here; lazy-bones here

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