LONDON — Heads have started to roll at the BBC over rigged phone-in competitions and polls as the pubcaster admitted an internal inquiry had uncovered four more incidents of viewer deception.
The editor of flagship tyke show “Blue Peter” Richard Marson has been sacked after it emerged that the show deceived auds over a viewer poll to name the show’s pet cat. The online vote was won by the name Cookie but staffers opted for the runner-up name, Socks.
In July “Blue Peter” became the first show in the BBC’s history to be fined, when it admitted faking the results of a phone-in quiz.
Veteran music exec Ric Blaxill resigned as director of programs at digital radio station BBC6 Music. Three cases of viewer deception happened on BBC6 Music shows.
In all, it is believed that around 25 staff will be disciplined or fired.
The BBC Trust, the pubcaster’s internal regulator, said it was “very concerned” by these new lapses in editorial conduct as it was clear that guidelines were not being followed in certain parts of the org.
In a statement BBC director-general Mark Thompson said: “I would like to repeat my apology to viewers and listeners who were misled by these editorial lapses.
“Although these lapses amount to tens of hours across one million hours of broadcasting, the BBC’s standards must be as high in small-scale competitions as they are in the most major news story.”
Thompson suspended all phone-related competitions on TV, radio and the Internet in July. The BBC will begin a phased return of them beginning in November.