Ofcom fines ITV £5.6M for phone-in scandal

The Feedster

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Jun 26, 2007
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ITV has been fined a total of £5,675,000 for its phone-in failings, where people who rang in for competitions and voting on premium rate lines did not necessarily have their call correctly used.
GMTV has already been hit with a £2 million fine for their part in the phone-in scandal, but ITV and ITV2 have now been hit with penalties for a number of programmes and several different breaches of consumer codes.
Ant and Dec fines
For instance – some of the £1.2 million worth of penalties imposed for Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway included:
  • Selecting competition finalists before the telephone lines were announced as closed;
  • Staggering the selection of competition finalists which meant that viewers entering the competition did not have a fair and equal chance of winning;
  • Selecting finalists on the basis of their suitability to be on television and where they lived - contrary to the broadcaster's own terms and conditions, which explicitly stated that entrants would be chosen randomly.
  • On one occasion, an individual already known to the production team was placed on the shortlist of potential winners and went on to "win" the competition.
Another Ant & Dec show – Gameshow Marathon could not account to Ofcom for almost half the entries received, and some repeats on ITV 2 were not labelled as repeats – meaning people rang in but the voting was closed.
In addition, voting on Soapstar Superstar saw the production team override the voting, meaning that the viewer did not get what they had voted for.
X-Factor was fair
X-Factor was found NOT to have breached any guidelines in its voting.
“In particular, a detailed minute by minute analysis of the call data established that in the 2007 finals Leon Jackson was correctly announced as the winner (over Rhydian Roberts); that ITV did not mislead its audience in claiming that the finalists were "neck and neck"; and the difficulties some viewers found in calling the programme did not result in unfairness,” said Ofcom’s statement.
ITV has already given £7.8 million to charity over the failings – which Ofcom took into account.