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Last Updated: Monday, 24 September 2007, 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK
ITV drops British Comedy Awards
Jonathan Ross
Jonathan Ross has previously hosted the awards
ITV will not screen this year's British Comedy Awards after reportedly finding irregularities with phone voting.

The problem happened during the 2005 awards show, according to the broadcaster, which has called in law firm Olswang to investigate.

ITV refused to give details and said it would not comment further until the investigation was concluded.

But the ceremony is still set to go ahead in December and could be aired by another channel.

The high-profile annual event honoured the likes of Stephen Merchant, Russell Brand and Catherine Tate last year.

The news is believed to be connected to the People's Choice award, which is the only category voted for by the public.

Press reports have alleged that some votes went to waste because viewers were asked to call after a winner had been decided.

ITV logo
Reports claim some votes were cast after winners had been picked

The final section of the 2005 ceremony was broadcast with a half-hour delay to fit it around the main nightly news bulletin from 10.30 to 11pm.

The last part of the live ceremony took place while the news was on TV, with the end of the event subsequently broadcast on ITV1.

But viewers were allegedly invited to vote after the bulletin - despite the fact Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway had already been named the winner at the ceremony.

A six-month audit of ITV's output has been examining all programmes that have invited the public to participate.

The report, compiled by Deloitte, is expected to be published next month.


An ITV statement said: "ITV have today asked media law firm Olswang to conduct an investigation into an issue that has arisen in respect of the British Comedy Awards 2005.

"Pending conclusion of the investigation, broadcast of the British Comedy Awards 2007 will be postponed. ITV will not make any further comment regarding this matter until the conclusion of the investigation."

ITV did not reveal how the issue came to light.

Charlotte Church
Charlotte Church won the best female comedy newcomer last year
Meanwhile, Olswang has concluded its investigation into a documentary, which ITV wrongly claimed to show the dying moments of an Alzheimer's patient.

After receiving Olswang's report, ITV has blamed the documentary's maker Paul Watson for the misunderstanding.

Mr Watson has previously said that ITV was to blame for mishandling the story.

Publicity for the ITV1 programme said composer Malcolm Pointon, 66, "passed away" in the final scene - when he actually died three days later.

ITV was forced to admit the footage was of Mr Pointon slipping into unconsciousness after his brother Graham revealed the truth.

Malcolm and Barbara: Love's Farewell was shown on 8 August.

Mr Watson spent 11 years working on the project, charting the decline of Mr Pointon and the devotion of his wife Barbara.

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