Network suspends broadcasts of ITV Play

LONDON — ITV has suspended broadcasts of its lucrative premium-rate gamer channel, ITV Play, as the controversy over U.K. broadcasters profiting from shows based on premium telephone line quizzes intensifies.

The ban on ITV Play, launched a year ago this month, is part of an independent review of ITV’s participation in interactive TV services to be conducted by consultants Deloitte. All ITV premium-rate services will be suspended as of today.

It is unclear if the ban will extend to GMTV, the ITV breakfastcast provider part owned by Disney, which generates significant revenues from premium-line quizzes.

The ITV review will cover all premium-rate landline and mobile activity (excluding pay downloads).

Declaring that “this is a concern across the whole industry,” ITV chief operating officer John Cresswell said, “Millions of people enjoy interacting with ITV, either by voting in our entertainment shows or by taking part in prize competitions. It is critical that our viewers have absolute confidence in the services that we offer.”

Cresswell added that Deloitte will report back with “some urgency” and that interactive elements in each program will be re-introduced as Deloitte independently signs off on them.

Last week, it emerged that ITV had overcharged “X-Factor” viewers £200,000 ($385,000) in a mistake involving an interactive item.

The U.K.’s Channel 4 and the BBC also have been implicated in separate phone line controversies.

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