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Big Brother golden ticket draw not fixed, says ASA

Light wrist slap for Channel 4

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The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that the controversial Big Brother golden ticket draw was not fixed, but upheld complaints that it was not properly conducted "under the supervision of an independent observer".

As we previously reported, 100 golden tickets were hidden in special edition KitKat bars distributed around the UK. Thirty-four ticket holders eventually came forward, and were entered into a prize draw, eventually won by 43-year-old stripper Suzie Verrico, who allegedly already "knew she was going to enter the house before she was selected, supposedly at random".

The tabloids then had a field day, with The Daily Star claiming Verrico declared to drinkers in a London pub: "Watch out for me, I'm going into the Big Brother house," - before she'd won the competition.

The Sun weighed in with a report that Big Brother housemates "apparently rumbled the scam when the draw was made by machine in the house's garden". One contestant claimed that the winning ball "randomly selected" did not bear the number 14, corresponding to Verrico's ticket.

Not so, says the ASA: "The ASA noted an independent observer from ERS [Electoral Reform Services] had signed a check-sheet to show 34 individually numbered balls (one for each Golden Ticket holder) were placed in the machine, and the slow motion footage of the draw showed there were numerous different numbered balls in the machine, and the ball drawn was undoubtedly number 14.

"Although we noted the independent observer had left the Big Brother garden before the draw took place, the testimonials and props, combined with the slow motion footage, satisfied us that the draw had been conducted in accordance with the laws of chance."

Channel 4 did, however, receive a light wrist slap on the matter of the independent observer. The ASA's ruling states: "We noted an independent observer was present as the balls entered the machine, but not in the period immediately before the draw or at the time the draw took place.

"Because we considered that an independent observer should have been present and watching throughout the process of the draw and particularly at the point the winning ball was drawn, we concluded that the draw was not conducted under the supervision of an independent observer.

"We investigated whether the promotion was conducted under the supervision of an independent observer. On this point, the promotion breached CAP Code clause 35.7 (Prize promotions)."

As punishment for this misdemeanour, the promoters have been ordered "to ensure that future promotions were carried out in accordance with the Code". ®

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