ITV axe phone quiz shows

ITV have launched an independent investigation into their lucrative premium-rate interactive services amid much concern over its honesty and, as a result, have suspended all premium-rate interactive services across all of its channels.

This includes shows such as Dancing On Ice and the quiz show channel ITV Play being axed until further notice.

The move, though admirable, will hit ITV hard in the pocket. ITV Play alone takes in £18 million a year from premium-rate phone calls.
"Millions of people enjoy interacting with ITV - either by voting in our entertainment shows or by taking part in prize competitions,” said John Cresswell, chief operating officer of ITV.

"It is critical that our viewers have absolute confidence in the services that we offer. We believe that all programmes currently on air are compliant. However, in light of recent concern around this issue, something affecting every major broadcaster, we are conducting this independent review to ensure that ITV is meeting all relevant codes and regulations."

The move follows the revelation that ITV over-charged X Factor viewers by £200,000 in interactive votes for every show of the last series, won by Leona Lewis. The mistake was only noticed during a company audit.

However, ITV are not the only television channel to be at the centre of a premium-rate phone line fiasco. Channel 4’s 'Richard and Judy' encouraged viewers to ring in for a competition even though the callers had already been selected. However, Channel 4 will not be following the action taken by ITV.

"We have no plans at the moment to take all of our viewers' competitions off air,” a spokesman for the channel said.

The BBC also plan to keep running their premium-rate phone services despite the blunder on cooking show 'Saturday Kitchen', where host James Martin asked viewers to phone in for a competition, even though the show was pre-recorded.

"The BBC are not suspending their premium-rate phone lines,” said a BBC spokesman.

"Criticism of Saturday Kitchen was about a lack of clarity in the scripting of a pre-recorded programme, not of the way phone lines were operated."

Editor, - 2007-03-06 12:32:32

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