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Tuesday, 17 March, 1998, 00:15 GMT
BBC criticised over new lottery show
Cardbuyers can join the show's audience
The BBC has been ordered to justify its involvement in a new lottery scratchcard game - TV Dreams - and accused of violating its own guidelines by promoting a commercial product.

The BBC's plans to launch a new National Lottery Big Ticket Show this month linked to the 2 scratchcard sold by the lottery organisers Camelot were criticised by Gerald Kaufman, Labour chairman of the Culture Select Committee.

In an emergency Commons question he accused the BBC of "violating in the clearest possible way" its own guidelines.

The tickets are already on sale
They include terms that a competition must not appear to be gambling or a lottery, that the BBC ought to pay for prizes offered to contestants and that the BBC should never appear to be promoting a product.

The BBC has insisted the game does fall within the terms of its Producer Guidelines and the original agreement between Camelot and the BBC included plans for a show based on a scratchcard game.

"We are not taking it lightly," said Alan Yentob, the BBC's Director of Television. "We're trying hard to see that we legitimately keep to the BBC's guidelines and charter and deliver a show that will entertain people on Saturday night."

The BBC has already banned the use of its name on material advertising the scratchcards and has also barred any advertising photographs of the show's presenters Anthea Turner and Patrick Kielty holding the cards.

Card winners can compete for the biggest prize in British TV
TV Dreams scratchcards - which offer players the chance to join the audience TV show, but not take part in games - have already gone on sale, and the first show will be broadcast on Saturday March 28.

During the It's a Knockout style contest up to 40 scratchcard winners will be split into four teams headed by a celebrity and a representative from one of the "good causes" who will do battle in elaborate action games.

One member of the winning team will be selected randomly to compete for a chance to win 100,000, the biggest cash prize on offer on British television.

The show will also feature the weekly Saturday night lottery draw.

The Culture Secretary Chris Smith told MPs he has given the BBC three days to respond and he was expecting a "convincing and compelling" defence.

Mr Smith told them the BBC had entered into a "proper and open commercial relationship" with Camelot to broadcast the programme and the organisation had stated that the show met all the appropriate guidelines.

But he warned: "Any contravention of the terms of the BBC Charter and the terms laid down by this House for that charter is something thoroughly to be deplored.

"The BBC, however, assert that the programme does not contravene the terms of their charter and it is that precise question which I will expect the Governors of the BBC to address themselves to."

He added: "I will question the BBC closely about how they are fulfilling the terms of the charter. And I will expect the BBC to give convincing and compelling answers."

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