Eckoh fined for Channel 4 quiz

Company ran phone competition

LONDON — Another hefty fine has been imposed in the U.K. following the premium telephone TV scandal.

Call TV service provider Eckoh U.K., which ran the call TV segment for Channel 4 show “Richard & Judy,” has been fined a record £150,000 ($300,000) by premium rate services regulator Icstis. It has also been told to reimburse auds.

Move follows a $600,000 fine for terrestrial web Five by U.K. media watchdog Ofcom for faking winners in quiz show “Brainteaser.”

Icstis said the size of Eckoh’s fine reflected the “very serious nature” of the breach of its code of practice. Alistair Graham, the regulator’s chairman, said audiences who phoned in to play the “You Say, We Pay” quiz were treated with “a reckless disregard.”

He said: “Winners were being chosen before the competition’s closing deadline, whilst millions of additional viewers were still encouraged to phone in and pay to enter the competition. The public should be able to use these services with absolute confidence.”

But Eckoh claimed it had been made a “scapegoat” and is considering appealing. A statement from the service provider said: “Under the Icstis code of practice, the service provider is re-sponsible for any breaches of compliance, irrespective of who is actually responsible or how this came about. It is for this reason that Eckoh has been fined.

“Information providers, in this case Channel 4 and Cactus (the indie that makes ‘Richard & Judy’), are outside the jurisdiction of Icstis and it is unable to take action against them unless they agree.”

A Channel 4 spokesman said: “We are very disappointed by Eckoh’s failure to ensure that all calls were handled properly.”

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