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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 March 2007, 15:50 GMT
ITV suspends premium phone-ins
Fern Britton and Phillip Schofield of This Morning
This Morning is among the shows with regular phone-in competitions
ITV has suspended all premium-rate phone-ins, interactive competitions and votes while independent auditors conduct a review of its programmes.

Quiz channel ITV Play went off air with a message telling viewers "we hope to be back very soon".

The review follows a string of problems with interactive TV, including X Factor viewers being overcharged 200,000.

Separate investigations are also being held into Channel 4's Richard and Judy and ITV1's Saturday Night Takeaway.

The BBC's Saturday Kitchen is also being examined by premium-rate phone line regulator Icstis after viewers were asked to phone in to appear on the following week's programme, despite it being filmed just minutes after the live show.

No other terrestrial broadcaster plans to suspend its interactive services in the light of ITV's decision.

Melanie Lambert and Kyran Bracken in Dancing on Ice
Dancing on Ice (above)
ITV Play
This Morning
Loose Women
Who Wants to be a Millionaire
The BBC and Five say they have already completed investigations into their phone-in competitions and are satisfied they comply with Icstis guidelines.

Channel 4 says its programmes are currently being reviewed with the help of an independent third-party lawyer.

All four broadcasters will meet with Isctis on Thursday to discuss how to win back consumer confidence.

Ice show threatened

Telephone competitions are a substantial source of revenue for commercial TV channels. According to ITV's latest interim report, it expected ITV Play to make 20m profit.

The broadcaster's chief operating officer John Cresswell said on Monday: "It is critical that our viewers have absolute confidence in the services that we offer.

"We believe that all programmes currently on air are compliant.

ITV said its interactive services would return on a programme-by-programme basis, with each production facing scrutiny in the investigation.

The semi-final of skating show Dancing on Ice will only be shown at the weekend if phone-in procedures have been shown to be sound.

The review, carried out by Deloitte, will also cover programmes broadcast in the past two years and the results will be made public.

Breakfast broadcaster GMTV, which is only partly owned by ITV, said all of its programmes were compliant with phone-in regulations and no competitions would be suspended.


A statement from Eckoh, the company which provides ITV's phone-in services, said it took its obligations "very seriously" and supported the review.

If abuses of trust are widespread, then of course it is right to suspend them
Paul Roberts, London

Regulator Icstis also welcomed the review, calling it "evidence of a broadcaster taking its responsibility to its viewers seriously".

"Our concern is to get the whole industry working together so that the viewer, if they decide to use these telephone lines, can be sure they're getting a fair deal and not being ripped off," chairman Sir Alastair Graham told BBC Radio Five Live.

It is already investigating allegations that viewers were encouraged to ring in to the You Say, We Pay segment on Channel 4's Richard and Judy show even after all the contestants had been chosen.

A further investigation is looking into claims that competition winners on Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway had been chosen before phone-in lines closed.

All of the programmes had their phone-in services run by Eckoh.

The BBC pointed out it does not use premium-rate phone lines to raise revenue, and that all phone profits from Saturday Kitchen went to charity.

Background to the TV phone-ins row

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