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Monday, 2 December, 2002, 17:02 GMT
Popstars 'vote blunder' denied
Girls Aloud at Middlesex Hospital with Javine (centre) and Geri Halliwell
Javine - centre behind Geri Halliwell - was a favourite
TV executives have dismissed claims that a telephone voting blunder on ITV1's Popstars: The Rivals could have caused a finalist's unfair exit, following an inquiry.

Viewers had complained they were unable to register their vote for losing contestant Javine Hylton.

Javine, 20, failed to make the line-up of the all-female group after receiving the least number of viewers' votes on Saturday night's show.

But the company handling the poll, Red Fig, said there was no fault with the system.

Javine Hylton
Javine: Expected to launch a solo career
A spokesman for Popstars: The Rivals said they were "satisfied" with the outcome of the investigation.

And judge Louis Walsh, who will manage the girl band, Girls Aloud, insisted Saturday night's result was not fixed.

He told GMTV: "There was nothing rigged, definitely nothing rigged as far as I know.

"I think kids are watching so many of these shows now that they don't vote for the person they like most, they vote for the person that they think, 'Oh, I feel sorry for her'."

Walsh added a lot of record companies were already interested in Javine.

The row started on Saturday when London radio station Capital FM received about 20 calls from fans claiming they were not able to vote for Javine, from west London.

Some said they had dialled the number and heard a recorded message thanking them for voting for fellow contestant Sarah Harding.

Sarah, 21, from Greater Manchester, beat Javine to become the fifth and final member to join the group.

Throughout the show last night Sarah was ahead of Javine and the text message result mirrored the phone call votes

Red Fig
Javine had been among the favourites to make it into the band, named Girls Aloud, which is aiming for the number one single at Christmas.

Popstars presenter Davina McCall and the panel of judges, including Geri Halliwell, admitted to being shocked Javine had not made the grade.

Throughout the series she had been tipped for stardom, and the judges appeared confident she would win a place in the group.

She now appears set for a solo career having impressed during the Popstars series.

A number of listeners to Capital on Sunday morning complained they could not vote for Javine.


The station's news editor, Justin King, said presenter Chris Brooks had been talking about Popstars when the complaint calls started coming in from would-be Javine voters.

"More and more people then called in to the show reporting the same problem."

But Red Fig spokeswoman Heidi Scrimgeour said: "The confirmation messages were correct for each number at all times when they were dialled.

"Throughout the show last night Sarah was ahead of Javine and the text message result mirrored the phone call votes."

Sarah joined 17-year-old Nicola Roberts from Runcorn; Cheryl Tweedy, 19, from Newcastle; Kimberly Walsh, 20, from Bradford; and 17-year-old Nadine Coyle from Derry in the band.

Their debut single is expected to battle it out against the show's all-male group, One True Voice, to try to secure the Christmas number one spot.

  • Odds on Girls Aloud dropped from 4/1 to 5/1 after Saturday night's result and a spokesman for Ladbrokes said they were on the drift.

    "Ladbrokes has not seen one bet on the band since the decision to omit Javine. Girls Aloud seem more like Girls Alone in the betting market at present," he said.

    One True Voice are 4/7 favourites to top the Christmas charts with their double A side, featuring a cover of the Bee Gees hit Sacred Trust and a new song, Long After You've Gone.

    BBC News Online asked users who tried to vote to e-mail us with their experiences. Here is a selection of replies.

    I tried to send a text vote for Javine and it took 6 or 7 attempts before it eventually went through. I think there is something very fishy about the whole thing as Javine has been one of the top performers throughout.
    Alex, England

    I voted for Sarah, my second favourite after Javine. I thought Javine would easily get in, so I didn't bother voting for her. Perhaps that is what everybody else did. Javine was very confident she would get in as were the judges. Maybe the judges shouldn't comment as the public tries to prove them wrong.
    Fran McLean, UK

    Quite obviously, most people assumed that voting for Javine would be a wasted vote since she was such a favourite to get through. Therefore, everyone voted tactically, voting for their second favourite.
    Simon Hill, UK

    Tried to send a text message and it was rejected once then when I tried again it said the message had been sent however a few hours later I got a message on my phone saying I had been unsuccessful and that the message had not gone though. Something has definitely gone wrong here!
    Melanie MacDonald, UK

    I tried to text vote for Javine but kept getting 'message failed' replies.
    tan, england

    This happened several times on Pop Idol... Each time it was when the one I was voting for was voted off!
    Helen, UK

    I tried throughout the evening to get through to vote for Javine and got through once- hearing the Sarah message. Considering the number of times everyone in my house tried to phone, it seems very suspicious that we could only get through once- or that if so many people had voted for Javine, she got voted off.
    Katie, UK

    I voted for Javine twice and only recieved conformation on one of the text messages saying thankyou for voting for Sarah.
    Anne Nkad, London

    I text voted for Javine as soon as the vote opened. Shortly after I also text voted for Kimberley, my kimberley confirmation text came back within about 5 minutes. My Javine text confirmation came through yesterday morning at 10:36, 14 hours too late. This smacks of vote rigging or incompetence, either way Javine should have been in the band having more talent in one finger than Sarah or any of the others have in their entire body. Perhaps she had already been earmarked for a solo career by Popstars.
    Dave Morgan, UK

    I tried at least 50 times throughout the evening to vote for Javine, but did not get through once. I think the whole business is a disgrace. However I'm sure Javine will be the real winner in the end, as she is clearly streets ahead of all the others. She will be a big star and the "winners" will be forgotten within a year.
    Gavin Park , UK

    I called to vote for Javine and heard Davina's voice saying that my vote for Sarah had been registered! I was very miffed and checked the number I had just dialled and it was the number on the TV for Javine, I had even written it down! I was so shocked when I saw that she hadn't got through and then I wondered if the phone lines had been wrong! How many other people were conned by this! Best regards Jill Hurry. I know Javine will do well, she out shone the others by miles!
    Jill Hurry, England

    I don't know why everyone is so surprised regarding the vote rigging allegations. The same thing happened when Aaron Bayley was voted off Pop Idol. Thousands of people across the country complained that they were prevented from voting for Aaron and the so called 'investigation' said nothing was wrong. The real surprise is that the public can be so naive to think that they are controlling the result.
    Geoff Watson, England

    I have worked in telecoms for over 20 years. You need to examine who complained about the problem and trace back to the originating phone line and telephone company. On receiving a call each company points that call to the operator who owns that number - called a transalation - and this can be changed. Therefore if you dial 01234-456789, I at the exchange can point this call to the BBC switch board number. Fraud is easy. As this would only affect the area I wish it to, ie all calls from Vodafone could be misdirected, but any one who tests a call from any other mobile provider would work okay.
    Andy Merritt

    I sent a text massage and assumed it had got through, but then I received a failed message about half an hour after the phone lines closed.
    Ciara, England

    The question comes down to how the votes were counted. Could it be that the wrong announcement was configured on Javine's line for a period of time on Saturday night? If the organisers are counting the number of calls to a certain number, then the right result would come through irrespective of the announcement that the caller heard.
    Andrew Lord, UK

    Prehaps Red Fig should release the actual numbers - who got how many votes.
    Tim Brown, Scotland

    I called to vote for Javine and was also told I had voted for Sarah. If they are going to go so far as to fix the technology why bother with the competition?
    Kerry, London, England

    At the beginning I telephoned and had no trouble getting through to vote for Javine and also Nicola. At the end when there was just Javine and Sarah still standing, I telephoned twice for Javine and had no trouble placing my vote.
    Kathryn Wood, Essex, UK

    I vote that people stop voting for anybody on this show until the full figures are released. I would have thought that an enquiry would be able to take a small set of the complaints and trace them through the system. There must be a way of tracking calls/text messages to responses. My 10p worth.
    Carl, England

    At the end of the day if the person you wanted to "win" doesn't accusatios of vote rigging are made. I remember the same with Gareth/Will in the Pop Idol final. My mother was sure it was fixed as she didn't know anyone who'd voted for Will. I had voted 10 times for him, my daughter, 2 nieces and cousin all also voted for Will but Mum didn't know anyone who had.
    Gail, UK

    If they had simply had a 'vote for the one you want off' then there would have been no problem with tactical voting etc.
    Dom, UK

    My partner experienced the same problems last week when she voted for Chris twice and received texts later staing that she had voted too late when she quite clearly hadn't. This also happened with Big Brother when the incorrect number was shown for Jonny for a short while. Of course these people aren't going to admit to making a mistake, imagine how costly it would be to them. An external body should check this out.
    Brian, England

    Although neither my wife or I voted on Saturday night, we did both vote last week for the boys. Despite texting our votes as soon as the lines had opened, it wasn't until Sunday morning that I got a message to say that the vote had not been registered because "the lines have now closed". Suffice to say, one of our votes was for Chris.
    Andrew, UK

    I voted via text and via phone on Saturday night, the text didn't go through and the phone call took 5 attempts!
    Isaac, England, UK

    I couldn't get through to vote for Javine on my landline, so I tried text messaging only to be told my text message had failed after the votes had all been cast.
    Chris, England

    I'm not surprised to hear this and now confirms to me that these programmes are rigged. I didn't attempt to vote for this series but can remember that when I tried to register my vote for Gareth Gates, his line was down with the unobtainable dial tone then please try again message, for at least 20 minutes!
    Angela Sealy

    All day on Sunday I kept getting text messages saying thank you for voting for Sarah
    Sophie, England

    I voted twice for Javine by text and got one acknowledgement while the show was still on air and the second the next day. That's not right. It's either incompetence or a conspiracy
    richard, UK

    There was definately something funny going on because I called to vote for Javine and heard Davina say that my vote for Sarah had been registered - I even double checked the number twice.
    Melanie, UK

    Its just like Pop Idol - I tried to vote for Gareth for the whole evening - the phone was on constant redial, but I never got through and neither did anyone else I know. Coincidence or rigging?
    Nickie, England

    If people were voting for who they wanted out, as opposed to who they wanted in, Javine would never had gone. People assumed she would get through easily and didn't vote her.
    Michelle M, UK

    I voted for Javine and got through. Javine should have walked that competition, she has more talent than the 6 of the girls put together.
    Sarah, England

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