Record fine for Richard and Judy phone-in

Eckoh UK Ltd, the company responsible for operating Richard and Judy’s premium rate phone-in competition, You Say, We Pay, has been hit with a record £150,000 fine.

Regulator for premium-rate phone services, Icstis, found in their investigation that viewers were encouraged to enter the competition, paying £1, when winners had already been chosen. 47 per cent of the calls had no chance of winning, which translated into approximately two million viewers.

Icstis accused Eckoh of a "reckless disregard for viewers" and will now refer the case to media regulator Ofcom. They have also ordered that all entrants whose call was futile to be refunded.

"The hearing panel found clear evidence of fundamental failings in the winner selection process,” said Icstis chairman Sir Alistair Graham.

"Winners were being chosen before the competition closing deadline, whilst millions of additional viewers were still encouraged to phone in and pay to enter the competition but were denied the opportunity of fair consideration.”

Channel responded to the record fine by stating their disappointment in Eckoh.

"We engaged Eckoh in good faith as a reputable and experienced service provider and we are very disappointed by their failure to ensure that all calls to the competition were handled properly,” said a Channel 4 spokesman.

However, Eckoh believe that they are being made a scapegaot and the blame does not exclusively lay at their feet.

“We accept that Eckoh made mistakes with You Say, We Pay but it seems clear to us that all three parties could and should have spotted the problem earlier,” said Nik Philpot, chief executive officer of Eckoh.

"It was Eckoh who identified it and tried to take action. We have put in procedures that set the benchmark in terms of best practice and we are pleased that Icstis has described these as an admirable and comprehensive range of measures to ensure compliance in the future,” he added.

Channel 4 have since introduced a new system to monitor the performance of service providers on future phone-in competitions.

Editor, - 2007-07-06 11:51:12

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