UK network ITV in phone comp scandal

British broadcaster ITV was fined a record 5.67 million pounds ($11.76 million) on Thursday for misleading viewers over premium rate TV phone-in services

According to news reports in today’s Sydney Morning Herald British broadcaster ITV was fined a 5.67 million pounds ($11.76 million) by industry regulator Ofcom for misleading viewers over premium rate TV phone-in services.

The network had previously suspended all premium rate interactive services after learning that over a million viewers had been wrongly charged for entering competitions.

In its report into the affair, Ofcom believed that ITV had been guilty of several serious breeches to the code of practice and ordered the network to offer on air apologies to its viewers.

The fine received by ITV is the highest to be dealt out by the regulators – almost triple the record of 2 million pounds that was given to UK broadcaster GMTV last year after a similar phone rorting scandal.

In a statement released by Ofcom the watchdog revealed the high fine reflected repeated abuse of the system.
“The fine, which is by far the highest imposed by Ofcom or any of the previous regulators, reflects not only the seriousness of ITV’s failures but also their repeated nature.”

Meanwhile ITV chairman Michael Grade offered the following statement:
“Ofcom’s announcement today is an appropriate moment to restate ITV’s unreserved apology to the public for breaches that took place between 2003 and January 2007.
“It is clear that these serious breaches of trust were evidence of gross editorial errors of judgment designed, mistakenly, to enhance the viewer experience,” he said.
“In no case is there evidence that there were any corrupt attempts to generate further revenues.”