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Richard and Judy probe extended

Forum posting raises questions

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The probe into the Richard and Judy show has been extended as it now appears that complaints about how the phone lines worked and how calls were solicited were discussed on the Richard and Judy forum as early as 2004.

A viewer posted complaints in 2004, but it's not known if producers read the forums.

Last week, the company behind the Channel 4 show was questioned following allegations that viewers were encouraged to ring a line to earn a place in Richard and Judy's "You Say, We Pay" competition after the winner had already been chosen. Calls to the competition line cost £1 a time.

A spokeswoman for ICSTIS, which regulates premium rate phone lines, told The Reg: "We are investigating the period that Eckoh (which provides the phone service) was the service provider, going back to 2001."* See Bootnote.

If Channel 4 was aware of the problems then a police investigation is likely, according to The Observer. A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police told The Reg no such investigation had been started.

A statement from Eckoh said: "Eckoh plc takes its role in the provision of premium rate telephony services very seriously and, in doing so, endeavours to ensure that its services comply with the relevant regulatory codes. In the case of the 'You Say, We Pay' competition on Channel 4's Richard and Judy Show, the Company, following an internal review at the start of the year, alerted the programme makers to the potential breach in regulations. As a result, the Company welcomes the proposed investigations by ICSTIS and Channel 4 and is cooperating fully to supply the necessary information."

The husband and wife team have publicly apologised and set up a refund line (freephone number) for disgruntled viewers. Anyone who entered the competition this year or last year can claim a refund by sending a copy of their phone bill. Any unclaimed money will be donated to Great Ormond Street Hospital.

The BBC has also been drawn into the dodgy phone-in scandal and apologised for how it ran phone-ins for its Saturday Morning Kitchen programme.

Viewers were encouraged to phone in to take part in the next show - but the next show was recorded just a few hours later. More here.

Bootnote: Ictis got in touch to make clear they are investigating the current series of Richard and Judy and last year's (2006) while Eckoh was providing telephone services for production company Cactus TV.®

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