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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 September 2007, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
TV phone-ins suffer massive drop
Richard and Judy
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The number of people taking part in TV phone-in competitions and votes has almost halved in the wake of recent scandals, according to a report.

The research found that 43% of those who took part in "participation TV" in the last 12 months have now stopped.

A further 20% have significantly reduced their involvement, according to Oliver & Ohlbaum Associates.

The drop means income for broadcasters has been slashed from 400m to 120m, the study said.

The report said: "Until this summer, participation TV was the golden goose for free-to-air television networks which had seen their traditional advertising revenue come under pressure.

"Commercial network broadcasters will clearly have to look elsewhere for revenue growth in the future."

'Loss of confidence'

The research suggested that most of the decline had taken place in the past four months.

A separate report by management consultancy Mott MacDonald Schema revealed that 89% of people who have used premium rate phone-in services had lost confidence in them.

Their research showed that almost two thirds felt premium rate TV contests and votes were "just a way to cheat people out of money with no chance of success".

A spokesman for the firm said: "although there is a clear market for premium rate phone-ins, the public has lost all confidence in their honesty."

The research comes a day after breakfast broadcaster GMTV was fined 2m by industry regulator Ofcom for charging viewers to enter competitions they could not win.

Channel 4's Richard and Judy and Five's Brainteaser have also been fined for problems with their competitions.

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