Phone-in quizzes to be lotteries

After months of what was seemingly controversy after controversy, the Gambling Commission is ready to rule that phone-in quiz shows, such as those favoured by ITV and Channel 5, will be classified as lotteries.

That is bad news for TV channels that operate the phone-ins because now they will now essentially be a lottery operator, meaning that a fifth of any profit must be donated to charity. The competitions will now come under the microscope much more than ever before.

After disgrace had hit some of the UK’s biggest shows such as X-Factor, Blue Peter and Richard and Judy, the public began to lose faith in the honesty of TV phone-ins. Last week, ITV admitted that all the negative publicity about the shows had dented their profits. Last year, ITV earned approximately £20 million from its interactive quiz channel ITV Play.

However, it was found that the chances of getting through to some shows were as high as 5,000-1 at peak times. One channel, Big Game TV, was even raided by the Fraud Squad in May 2006 after a BBC4 investigation.

Ofcom, the watchdog for the media industry, and Icstis, which regulates premium-rate phone services, are also carrying out their own separate investigation.

Editor, - 2007-05-21 12:04:07

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