If a guest on a live programme makes an unprompted defamatory remark, the production company/broadcaster may be able to avoid legal liability if they can demonstrate that:
- the statement was made in circumstances where they had no effective control over the person making the defamatory remark; and
- they took "reasonable care" in relation to the production and did not know or had no reason to believe that they were contributing to the publication of the defamatory remark.
This is a complete defence regardless of the truth of the statement. In order to rely on this defence, it is important that presenters take immediate and effective action to distance the programme and the broadcaster from the offending remark, which must not be repeated.
See 'Live Programme Guidelines'.
Note: if a defamatory remark was made by a presenter in a live situation, it is unlikely this defence could be relied upon, because the presenter would be likely to be deemed to come under the effective control of the production company/broadcaster.