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EDITIONS
Monday, 27 May, 2002, 17:26 GMT 18:26 UK
Big Brother net fees enrage fans
Spencer
Spencer leads a popularity poll on the site
Big Brother fans in the UK have hit out at the show's producers for charging 10 a month to watch live action over the internet.

Disgruntled viewers have signed an online petition and left messages on websites complaining that they must pay to watch the 24-hour coverage.


To start charging for the live stream is an insult

Chris Gullick
Viewer
Last year, it was free to watch the live action on the Big Brother website - but viewers wanting to do the same this time are met with a message telling them they must pay 9.99 per month.

Channel 4 said the website was a victim of its own success and that it could not afford to offer live streaming free of charge.

Fans have criticised the move for its "outrageous over-commercialism" - but producers said it was a better service than last year and the fee would ensure a reliable connection.

About 1,000 fans have signed an online petition calling for the streamed images to be made free.

Kate
Kate is the bookmakers' favourite
A Big Brother spokeswoman said: "Viewers will be able to access free live streaming for the first two weeks following sign-up to the live web service and will also get free live streaming on Channel 4 on Friday and Saturday nights.

"We are sorry if our decision to charge for live web streaming has disappointed viewers.

"But having recently posted our first annual loss in a decade, we must ensure we can continue to pay for all the other valued programmes and services provided by the main Channel 4 service at no cost to viewers."

Many fans have also e-mailed BBC News Online to voice their criticisms.

"To start charging for the live stream is an insult," wrote Chris Gullick, who said the standard of this year's internet was no better than that of last year's.

Last year, 1.2 million people visited the Big Brother website during its 10-week run.

Big Brother odds
Kate - 4/1
Alex - 9/2
Spencer - 6/1
Sandy - 6/1
Alison - 7/1
Jonny - 7/1
Source: Eurobet
About 5.8 million viewers tuned in to see the 12 contestants enter the house on Friday.

The show, which has been a huge ratings success in the past, puts the housemates under constant camera surveillance and they are not allowed to leave the house.

Jade
Jade has provoked a strong response
Kate, a 22-year-old IT desk administrator from Kent, is the early favourite to win.

Bookmakers have given her odds of 4/1 to walk away with the 70,000 prize in 10 weeks' time, followed by Alex, a 23-year-old model from Essex, at 9/2.

London dental nurse Jade, 20, is at the bottom of the list, with odds of 33/1 to emerge victorious.

The first shock for the housemates is expected to come on Friday when they find out that they have to evict the first person.

BBC News Online's coverage of Big Brother 2002


A closer look

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FROM THE ARCHIVE

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The Big Brother 12


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