U.K. regulator rules on phone scams

Ofcom points to 'systemic failure'

LONDON — Blighty’s TV channels operating premium line services have been accused of a “systemic failure” by the regulator Ofcom.

Announcing the results of an inquiry following scandals over premium line services that have hit all U.K. terrestrial channels, the watchdog warned that broadcasters were “in denial” about their responsibilities to audiences.

Financial motives were the driving motive for these services, said the inquiry headed by Ofcom content board member Richard Ayre, a former BBC news topper.

He said: “Phoning a TV show isn’t like ordering pizza.

“When you put the phone down nothing arrives: you just have to trust that your call was counted.

“If broadcasters want audiences to go on spending millions calling in, they need to show they take consumer protection as seriously as program content.”

He said there was a “lack of transparency” over who is responsible for the services.

As the various scandals have come to light there has been a tendency for each of the parties involved — broadcaster, independent producer and service provider — to blame one another.

The inquiry recommends that broadcasters’ licenses be altered so they are forced to undertake an independent audit of phone-in votes.

In the past, phone lines have been kept open after winners were chosen.

Ofcom said it is “minded” to accept the recommendations.

The regulator’s CEO Ed Richards said: “This inquiry shows the extent to which there has been a systemic failure of compliance. ”

To date Ofcom has fined Five, owned by RTL, $600,000 for faking guests in “Brainteaser,” and the BBC’s “Blue Peter” $100,000 for faking a winner in a phone-in competition.

The regulator is examining more than 20 other causes, including alleged abuses by breakfast station GMTV, part-owned by Disney, and ITV.

More TV

  • TV Ratings: ABC Tuesday Comedy Lineup

    TV Ratings: ABC Tuesday Comedy Lineup Rises

    LONDON — Blighty’s TV channels operating premium line services have been accused of a “systemic failure” by the regulator Ofcom. Announcing the results of an inquiry following scandals over premium line services that have hit all U.K. terrestrial channels, the watchdog warned that broadcasters were “in denial” about their responsibilities to audiences. Financial motives were […]

  • Big Little Lies HBO

    HBO Defends 'Big Little Lies' Golden Globes Entry as a Limited Series

    LONDON — Blighty’s TV channels operating premium line services have been accused of a “systemic failure” by the regulator Ofcom. Announcing the results of an inquiry following scandals over premium line services that have hit all U.K. terrestrial channels, the watchdog warned that broadcasters were “in denial” about their responsibilities to audiences. Financial motives were […]

  • SAG Awards Snubs and Suprises

    SAG Nominations: 16 Biggest Snubs and Surprises

    LONDON — Blighty’s TV channels operating premium line services have been accused of a “systemic failure” by the regulator Ofcom. Announcing the results of an inquiry following scandals over premium line services that have hit all U.K. terrestrial channels, the watchdog warned that broadcasters were “in denial” about their responsibilities to audiences. Financial motives were […]

  • Three Billboards Stranger Things

    SAG Award Nominations Scorecard: Fox Searchlight, Netflix Top List

    LONDON — Blighty’s TV channels operating premium line services have been accused of a “systemic failure” by the regulator Ofcom. Announcing the results of an inquiry following scandals over premium line services that have hit all U.K. terrestrial channels, the watchdog warned that broadcasters were “in denial” about their responsibilities to audiences. Financial motives were […]

  • SAG Nominations 2018: Netflix vs. Amazon

    SAG Nominations 2018: Netflix Scores, Amazon Flops, Broadcast Nets Trail

    LONDON — Blighty’s TV channels operating premium line services have been accused of a “systemic failure” by the regulator Ofcom. Announcing the results of an inquiry following scandals over premium line services that have hit all U.K. terrestrial channels, the watchdog warned that broadcasters were “in denial” about their responsibilities to audiences. Financial motives were […]

  • SAG Award Nominations 2017 Curb Your

    SAG Awards TV Nominations: Netflix Soars, 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' is Back, 'GLOW' Shines, 'Modern Family' Streak Ends

    LONDON — Blighty’s TV channels operating premium line services have been accused of a “systemic failure” by the regulator Ofcom. Announcing the results of an inquiry following scandals over premium line services that have hit all U.K. terrestrial channels, the watchdog warned that broadcasters were “in denial” about their responsibilities to audiences. Financial motives were […]

  • Kevin Spacey Jeffrey Tambor Shutout of

    Kevin Spacey, Jeffrey Tambor Shut Out of SAG Awards in Wake of Sexual Harassment Allegations

    LONDON — Blighty’s TV channels operating premium line services have been accused of a “systemic failure” by the regulator Ofcom. Announcing the results of an inquiry following scandals over premium line services that have hit all U.K. terrestrial channels, the watchdog warned that broadcasters were “in denial” about their responsibilities to audiences. Financial motives were […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content