BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 20 December 2007, 12:36 GMT
Channel 4 is fined 1.5m by Ofcom
Richard and Judy
Richard and Judy Finnegan apologised to viewers
Channel 4 has been fined 1.5m by media watchdog Ofcom for misconduct involving phone-in competitions on Richard and Judy and Deal or No Deal.

Viewers were urged to call a premium number after contestants had already been chosen on Richard and Judy.

Deal or No Deal selected competition finalists in a way which gave later entrants less chance of winning.

Eckoh UK, the company which ran Richard and Judy's You Say, We Pay phone-in, has already been fined 150,000.

Investigation

Ofcom fined Channel 4 1m in relation to the Richard and Judy competition.

The channel has also been instructed to broadcast a summary of Ofcom's findings on three separate occasions.

Noel Edmonds
Noel Edmonds fronts Deal or No Deal

Following press reports about the conduct of TV phone-in competitions in the spring, Channel 4 commissioned an independent investigation which found the You Say, We Pay game had been conducted unfairly.

The report said that, from September 2004 to February 2007, Eckoh staff were submitting the shortlist of finalists to production company Cactus up to 20 minutes before the competition officially ended.

It also found that later entrants who did make the cut-off point had a lower statistical probability of being shortlisted as a potential winner, compared to those who entered earlier.

It is estimated that the early selection affected 42% of the total entries - 2.9 million callers who paid approximately 2.2m.

Competitions pulled

Channel 4 put a refund scheme in place and have pledged to donate unclaimed money to Great Ormond Street Hospital.

The channel admitted its training of production staff at Cactus was inadequate, given that none of them flagged up the fact the process may be unfair.

The broadcaster said it would like to "apologise once again" to viewers.

Channel 4 has also been instructed to broadcast a summary of Ofcom's findings on three separate occasions with regards to Deal or No Deal.

The same independent investigation which looked into You Say, We Pay found that a phone-in competition on the Noel Edmonds game show was unfair between 28 August 2006 and 13 May 2007.

Channel 4 was notified of the findings in March this year, but continued to use the practice of "staggered selection" on Deal or No Deal for a further seven weeks.

Ofcom found this selection process created unfair odds which meant viewers entering the competition were not given a fair and equal chance of winning.

The company that ran the competition during the period in question, iTouch, was fined 30,000 in July by PhonepayPlus, the phone-in competitions watchdog.

Channel 4's steps to remedy the breaches include viewer refunds, charity donations and the withdrawal of premium rate competitions on all its programmes.

Ofcom said its fines would have been higher had Channel Four not taken such "wide ranging action".



SEE ALSO
Record fine over TV quiz phone-in
06 Jul 07 |  Entertainment
Channel 4 axes phone-in contests
01 Aug 07 |  Entertainment
TV phone services 'fail viewers'
18 Jul 07 |  Entertainment
Five in record Brainteaser fine
26 Jun 07 |  Entertainment
Ofcom steps in to probe phone-ins
22 Mar 07 |  Entertainment
Madeley 'livid' over quiz scandal
23 Feb 07 |  Entertainment

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific