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Eckoh get hit with record £150k fine

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 on”. 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.


  1. OUCH!!! But good on ICSTIS for having balls to do what needs doing…not a fun job but glad they have the confidence to do it.

    What isn’t good on ICSTIS is them changing their name to this ridiculous namby pamby “could only have been dreamt up by a bunch of lovey dovey branding consultants whilst drinking white wine spritzers down in soho” name.

    Will ICSTIS be giving iTAGG and all the other mobile solutions providers a budget to re-educate our clients as to who on earth “PhonePayPlus” are. Honestly, it sounds like some naff Phones4U marketing campaign – I can just see Sir Alistair Graham doing the silly hand gesture every time he says who he works for.

    I just know that when we tell our clients that we work inline with industry regulations set out by ‘PhonePayPlus’ they are gonna go “what? who?” and I then have to spend 30 minutes of my valuable time explaining this nonsense.

    I mean, you just couldn’t even hang your fluffy 70% cotton unisex M&S socks on names like PhonePayPlus. I much preferred the days when you could hang your pit helmet on names like the Department of Trade & Industry. That’s a real name…just like ICSTIS…they shout ‘we are important and doing very worthwhile stuff’ and you believed them and respected them.


  2. PhonePayPlus sounds awfully like something to do with something I’d find down the corner shop for topping up a gas card or paying the council tax. Not that I do any of those things down the corner shop, I hasten to add. But you know what I mean?

    This was the first I’d heard about their name change. Tucked away in the bottom of a press release that was so well received I woke up to it at 8am on Sky News as their ‘top story’.


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