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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 July 2007, 15:44 GMT 16:44 UK
ITV 'expects' phone-in criticism
Michael Grade
Mr Grade told MPs he encouraged whistle-blowers to come forward
ITV chairman Michael Grade has said he would be "surprised" if a review of his company's use of premium-rate telephone lines gave it "a clean bill of health".

He is awaiting the outcome of an audit ordered after complaints of deception by shows such as GMTV and The X Factor.

Mr Grade told MPs there were "great" pressures, but said it had been a shock to learn that some people "do not know that there is a line you do not cross".

MPs are focusing on public confidence in broadcasting after recent scandals.

These have involved the BBC, Channel 4 and Five as well as ITV's services.

Some cases centred around viewers being invited to dial premium-rate lines for competitions they stood no chance of winning.

Others saw revelations of misleading editing by broadcasters or cases of deception where events were not accurately portrayed.

'Misbehaviour'

Mr Grade, who moved to ITV from the BBC in January, described cases of misleading editing as "misbehaviour" that the TV industry had to overcome.

These were "dishonest judgements made at differing levels in the day-to-day editorial processes", he told MPs.

Mark Byford
Mr Byford was "stunned" at the six cases which emerged, he told MPs
He said however staff felt, "the show doesn't go on if it means deceiving the viewers" - even if this meant a blank screen.

And he described "a whistle-blowing policy", which had been put in place at ITV, as having been "very, very useful".

Mr Grade gave evidence to the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee alongside his director of programming, Simon Shaps.

In cases where staff felt they had been pressured by their bosses to deceive viewers, they "know they will be supported by Simon and myself if it comes out and they're fired", Mr Grade added.

"Trust the audience and if it all collapses on-air, so what - it's not the end of the world, but we've retained our integrity."

'Zero tolerance'

Also appearing before MPs was Mark Byford, the deputy director general of the BBC.

The corporation recently announced an independent inquiry would consider the "faking" of competition results on six programmes, including Comic Relief, Sport Relief and Children in Need.

Liz Kershaw
One MP could not understand why DJ Liz Kershaw was still on-air
Committee chairman John Whittingdale said he was concerned about a "serial deception" by BBC 6 Music's Liz Kershaw show, where production staff pretended to be quiz entrants on several occasions when the programme was pre-recorded.

Mr Whittingdale asked why Kershaw remained on-air when Mr Byford had admitted three senior staff had been suspended in connection with the other deceptions.

"The judgement made at the moment is that Liz Kershaw continues broadcasting on 6 Music but the investigation continues," Mr Byford said.

Mr Byford frequently responded to questions by urging the committee to await the outcome of the inquiry, saying he did not wish to pre-empt its findings.

However, he said the BBC had "an absolute zero tolerance of this happening in future".

"We recognise and absolutely believe this is a very serious situation. It can't happen again and we'll act properly."

  • Meanwhile, Channel 4 and Five are to work together on a code of best practice for all independent producers in the wake of the incidents.

    Five said it was reviewing its relationships with TV companies, as well as its contracts and processes "to ensure viewers can have total faith in the broadcaster".

    Channel 4 has also announced new clearance procedures for promotional materials.


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