Contestants on Network Ten’s hit cooking contest MasterChef agree to hand over 15 per cent slice of their media income for three years, are banned from Facebook and Twitter and give production company Shine a sweeping veto over their career once the show finishes.
A copy of the MasterChef contract, obtained by Fairfax Media, also shows that contestants on this year’s show were paid a an ‘‘out of pocket expenses’’ allowance of $630 a week while they were filming episodes in Melbourne – only slightly more than the minimum weekly award wage for an entry level cook of $583 a week.
The 10-page contract was provided to contestants on this year’s fifth season of the show, which was won by Victorian Emma Dean.
Ratings were disappointing compared to previous years, but a million people still tuned in to watch judges Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston award Dean $100,000, a car and a book contract during the season finale on September 1.
While contestants are locked in the MasterChef house, they give Shine, controlled by Rupert Murdoch’s daughter Elisabeth, the right to conduct ‘‘reasonable searches’’ of contestants looking for ‘‘illegal drugs, weapons... or other illicit, offensive or dangerous items’’.
Shine also reserves the right to kick contestants off the show at any time for any reason and air any explanation about the reason why ‘‘without restriction’’.
In addition to Shine receiving a 15 per cent commission from any media career income earned by contestants, it also has the right to audit their books and records looking for any underpayment.
It may conduct an audit on a week’s notice up to twice a year and if an underpayment of more than 5 per cent is detected contestants agree to ‘‘bear all the costs of such audit’’.
Contestants agree to ‘‘block, suspend, put on hold, take off line or otherwise cease involvement’’ in any websites or social media during filming.
They are specifically banned from posting about MasterChef on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instragram and Pinterest, or speaking to the media, without permission from Shine.
For 15 months after the show finishes, Shine bans contestants from appearing as a host or guest on TV, radio or online shows and talent contests ‘‘relating to your cooking/food preparation abilities’’ without prior permission.
Shine also retains similar control over any book, magazine or online publishing deals for a year after the show airs.
And for 14 months after the show finishes, it has a ‘‘final option’’ to match third-party offers for any kind of media work.
Contestants also agree:
- To be ‘‘separated from your family, friends, and your regular environment, and have limited contact with family and friends, for an extensive period of time’’;
- Not to sue Shine for any injury they suffer during filming;
- Not to ‘‘use any device or form of technology... to take photographs or make any audio, visual or audiovisual recordings of any of the final 24’’ contestants.
The contract also includes many clauses similar to those in the X Factor agreement revealed by Fairfax Media on Monday.
These include an agreement that contestants voices can be dubbed in any language and a clause granting Shine the right to broadcast the show ‘‘in all media, now known or hereafter devised throught the universe in perpetuity’’ without payment.
A Shine spokeswoman said: "The MasterChef contract is fair and in line with standard reality and entertainment show contestant contracts. It exists in part to protect the contestants themselves as well as Shine, the broadcaster investing in the production of the show and the format."