Obscure Box

Thoughts from inside the obscure box

May 9, 2008

Dodgy TV phone polls revealed

Posted by : Michael Lund
Filed under : Consumer, Media, Television

Ever thought those TV phone polls and competition lines were dodgy? Well Britain's ITV network has been fined a total of £5,675,000 (about A$11.8-million) for a series of phone poll scams.

The BBC's report "Ant and Dec return comedy prize" (Friday 9 May 2008) says the comedy duo are "absolutely appalled" after they were given an award that should have gone to the Catherine Tate Show, which scored more votes in a phone poll for the 2005 People's Comedy Award.

The details of this and other scams emerged in an investigation by Ofcom, Britain's independent regulator of the communications industry.

The watchdog says, in "Ofcom fines ITV plc for misconduct in viewer competitions and voting", the fine is the biggest it's ever imposed and reflects the seriousness of the repeated abuse of premium rate services.

It found a number of cases where phone poll results were ignored, or premium rate phone lines remained open after competitions were closed so people were charged for votes that were never counted.

Competition winners and finalists were also picked "on the basis of their suitability to be on screen" or "purely on where they lived" rather than randomly as stated in competition terms and conditions.

The Chairman of Ofcom’s Content Sanctions Committee, Philip Graf, said: "ITV programme makers totally disregarded their own published terms and conditions and Ofcom Codes. Further there was a completely inadequate compliance system in place. The result was that millions of paying entrants were misled into believing they could fairly interact with some of ITV’s most popular programmes."

Makes you think about the phone polls here on Australian TV.

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All thoughts and comments here are the honestly held personal opinion of Michael Lund and are based on the information available at the time of publication.