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Equity: 'X Factor is cheap exploitation'

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Equity: 'X Factor is cheap exploitation'
Performers' union Equity has called on producers of The X Factor and other reality talent shows to pay contestants who appear in the latter stages of the programmes.

In a motion to be tabled at next month's Trades Union Congress meeting, it will argue that participants are forced to enter "restrictive contracts" because of a "loophole" in legislation relating to competitions.

It reads: "These programmes may be very popular with the public but are based on exploitation and humiliation of vulnerable people, which cannot be acceptable.

"The public's demand for high-quality entertainment should be met by professional drama and light entertainment which has been replaced by this cheap exploitation."

Equity states that The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent should follow the lead of How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?, Any Dream Will Do and I'd Do Anything and pay contestants at standard rates in the final rounds.

However, a spokeswoman for producers Talkback Thames said that as talent contests these shows do not constitute employment, while adding that the union had not approached the company to discuss the issue.

She said: "Contestants choose to enter to compete for a substantial prize - a cash prize of £100,000 and a performance on the Royal Variety Performance for Britain's Got Talent and a recording contract worth £1 million on The X Factor.

"The shows also give ordinary people an opportunity to showcase their talents and potentially transform their lives."

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