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Big Brother voting ruled misleading

ICSTIS delivers £40k slap on the wrist

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Premium rate regulator ICSTIS has ordered Big Brother's phone and text lines to pay for the cost of its investigation, which today found misled voters over the reentry of an evicted housemate.

During this summer's series, the British public voted to give more oxygen to the TV career of mewling fat free fruitcake Nikki Grahame, by sticking her in the shed for another couple of weeks. This upset some, who'd hoped they'd gotten rid of her for good.

ICSTIS noted the rules on the Channel 4 website stated: "Once a housemate leaves they forfeit any claim to the prize money," but accepted the broadcaster did not intend to mislead by failing to change the policy, because the published terms and conditions had not been amended. ICSTIS' code of practice was breached, however.

The ruling goes against Channel 4's premium rate providers on Big Brother, Minick UK for SMS, and iTouch for 090 phone voting. They'll shoulder the cost of ICSTIS' investigation, launched in early August.

The costs are drawn from ICSTIS' flat charge of £1,052 for each of the two companies, plus a £15 levy for each complaint received. A record 2,635 Big Brother viewers had grievances, including those referred to ICSTIS by Ofcom. The total of £41,629 (by our reckoning) will be divvied out between iTouch and Minick based on how many complaints the text and phone service each attracted.

ICSTIS said because of the size of the costs and because Grahame did not win the show, a further punitive fine would not be applied. ®

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