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Last Updated: Friday, 21 May, 2004, 11:22 GMT 12:22 UK
Phone-in quiz rules to be changed
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire
Shows such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire use phone-ins
A proposed government bill may force television quiz shows that feature phone-in competitions to make the questions more difficult.

Quiz shows such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire? ask would-be contestants to answer a question over the phone to be in with a chance of qualifying.

The broadcasting industry is said to have made around 50m from phone-in competitions in the past year.

However, it is causing concern for some charities running similar competitions.

Those charities that are dependent on lottery money claim that phone-ins where questions are too easy pose a threat to them by taking away some of their profits.

Licence

"If the question in a phone-in competition is too easy, it effectively becomes a lottery," a spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) told BBC News Online.

"You need a licence to run a lottery and the profits must go to charity - which they don't in the case of these phone-in competitions."

The DCMS added that in the case of quiz shows, such phone-ins were skill tests - and as such should prevent people who did not know the answer to the questions from entering.

Celador, who make Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, declined to comment on the move.

The draft version of the bill - known as the Gambling Bill - ruled last year that all prize competitions not run by charities should be banned if the level of skill to enter does not prevent anyone from taking part.

However, a spokesman for the joint parliamentary committee working on the bill said they were still unsure how the ruling would work.




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