CBS to Bring in New Policies and Procedures After 'Survivor' Misconduct Allegations

SURVIVOR Island of Idols - Dan Spilo- Publicity- H 2-  2019
CBS Entertainment

The misconduct allegations roiling CBS' long-running reality show Survivor has led to the network instituting a series of guidelines "regarding personal space, inappropriate behavior and how to report these issues" for future seasons. 

The network on Tuesday released a lengthy statement that outlined a range of policies and procedures that are being established in the aftermath of contestant and Hollywood talent manager Dan Spilo being removed from the competition following misconduct allegations, a first for the reality series in its 19-year and 39-season run. 

Following the elimination of fellow contestant Elaine Stott, executive producer and host Jeff Probst told remaining players, "Alright, so, need to share some news. So I just spoke privately with Dan and I want to update you guys. A decision has been made and Dan will not be returning to the game. He will not be coming back to camp. He won’t be on the jury. He’s gone."

Last Wednesday's episode ended with a title card that read, "Dan was removed from the game after a report of another incident, which happened off-camera and did not involve a player." 

Among the new guidelines, a new rule "will be implemented stating unwelcome physical contact, sexual harassment and impermissible biases cannot be brought into the competition and will not be permitted as part of gameplay." There will also be "on-site professional to provide a confidential means of reporting any concerns" as well as mental health support staff. The network will also institute sensitivity training and bring in a third-party body to oversee its rules and procedures. 

In the statement, CBS claimed the incidents that occurred on season 39 were "unprecedented" and led to the network and producers to investigate and listen to the players before establishing the new guidelines which will effect season 40, which has already filmed, and season 41. 

The full statement from CBS is below. 

Season 39 of “Survivor” has been unprecedented for all of us, with important social issues and inappropriate individual behavior intersecting with game play in complex ways that we’ve never seen before. During the course of the production, we listened to the players intently, investigated responsibly and responded accordingly, including taking the unprecedented step of removing a player from the game.

At the same time, we are responsible for the final outcome of this season. We recognize there are things we could have done differently, and we are determined to do better going forward.

“Survivor” has a 20-year track record of a strong support system on locations and after production. It is also a show that continues to evolve, as we respond to what we learn from every new situation and every player. We will take the important lessons we learned from this season and adopt new protocols and procedures for future seasons, to ensure that the events that occurred this season are not repeated.

For Season 40, which has already filmed, the show added to its pre-production cast orientation specific guidelines regarding personal space, inappropriate behavior, and how to report these issues.

For Seasons 41 and beyond, the producers are reviewing all elements of the show to further support appropriate interaction, including how the players live during, as well as after they are eliminated from, the competition.

The show will also take additional steps to enhance procedures for training, reporting of issues and prohibited forms of game play. The new measures to further support a safe environment include but are not limited to the following:

The production will add another on-site professional to provide a confidential means of reporting any concerns, so that the production can address them promptly apart from the game. The full range of reporting processes will be communicated clearly to the players during pre-production orientation. The new executive will add to a support system that already makes mental health providers available to players on location and after they leave the island.

The show will enhance its pre-production orientation with new anti-harassment, unconscious bias and sensitivity training for cast, producers and production crew on location.

A new rule will be implemented stating unwelcome physical contact, sexual harassment and impermissible biases cannot be brought into the competition and will not be permitted as part of gameplay. This will be covered in the cast orientation for each season, along with clear instructions on how to report violations.

The show will also partner with a third-party expert in the field to review, evolve or add to these new policies and procedures going forward.

In addition, CBS Entertainment will develop appropriate enhanced policies and procedures equivalent to the new “Survivor” measures and adapt them for the network’s other reality programming going forward.