Dozens of companies have announced they will no longer be advertising on the Spanish version of the TV reality show Big Brother after it emerged that a contestant had been shown footage of her alleged rape.
Carlota Prado was sent to the diary room to watch a video of how a fellow contestant apparently had sex with her when she was unconscious after drinking.
“Please, Super, stop now, please,” a tearful Ms Prado asked. But the tape continued to play, with the Voice saying: “We think you need to see this, Carlota.” The scene was never broadcast but was leaked to the Spanish press this week.
Until being asked to enter the diary room, Ms Prado had no idea of what had happened the previous night in her bed after she had been helped to lie down by José María López, her fellow contestant with whom she had started a relationship with in the house.
According to footage of the alleged rape, she said “no, I can’t” to Mr López. But he then got into bed with the prone Ms Prado and allegedly had sex with her for several minutes before the show’s production team spoke over the bedroom speaker to interrupt him.
After the diary room treatment of Ms Prado was revealed by the digital newspaper El Confidencial, a series of advertisers have pulled their support for Big Brother. This week large companies including Telefónica and Ferrero Rocher joined a list of more than 40 brands that have announced they are severing their connection with the reality show broadcast by the Telecinco station since 2000.
Endemol Shine Group, the company that owns the rights to the Big Brother format, said in a statement the decision to inform Ms Prado of the alleged assault without the presence of a psychologist or any other person present was a mistake:
“With hindsight we regret that the conversation where Carlota was informed took place in the diary room environment,” the company said, adding that Mr López was expelled from the show and that Ms Prado was given psychological support after the diary room experience.
Ms Prado spent several days in a hotel before returning to the show. Representatives of Zeppelin, the Spanish production company that makes Gran Hermano, reported Mr López to the police and Ms Prado later added her own complaint.
An investigative judge recently concluded that there were grounds to put Mr López on trial for alleged sexual abuse, although his lawyer has said his client denies the charge.