Following an investigation by premium rate regulator ICSTIS into claims that Channel 4 chat show Richard & Judy had been conning viewers, their service provider Eckoh were today fined a record £150,000.
ICSTIS rules that the competition ‘You Say We Pay’ had “seriously misled viewers by actively encouraging them to enter the competition after the potential winners had already been selected”. They’ve also passed the case to broadcast regulator Ofcom, for further investigation and possible action under the Ofcom Broadcasting Code.
Announcing the record fine, ICSTIS Chairman Sir Alistair Graham said: ‘The size of the fine reflects the very serious nature of the breach of our Code of Practice. The Hearing Panel found clear evidence of fundamental failings in the winner selection process. Winners were being chosen before the competition closing deadline, whilst millions of additional viewers were still encouraged to phone in and pay to enter competition but were denied the opportunity of fair consideration. Such reckless disregard for viewers is unacceptable.”
‘There is no doubt that the public thoroughly enjoys taking part in premium rate competitions and votes on television. However, as well as being entertaining and fun, services should be reliable and trustworthy. Consumer protection should be at the heart of television rather than a broadcasting philosophy of ‘the show must go onÃ¢â‚¬Â. The public should be able to use these services with absolute confidence. Consumers must get a fair deal.”
At the same time, ICSTIS announced they’ll be changing their name to the more friendly “PhonePayPlus” in October 2007.