Feeds

GMTV suspends phone-ins over scam allegations

Are viewers a: furious b: seething or c: livid

High performance access to file storage

GMTV has suspended its phone-in quizzes amidst reports that viewers were duped into paying to submit entries for competitions that had already closed.

Thousands every week for the last four years paid £1.80 each to enter a weekday multiple-choice quiz, offering prizes of up to £20,000, run by the breakfast TV program. According to an investigation by the BBC's Panorama many had no chance of winning because a shortlist of 20 people with the correct entries was picked 45 minutes before lines officially closed at 9am.

The alleged ruse brought in an estimated £45,000 a day from viewers of the lightweight breakfast news magazine, or a total of £40m over the four years the quiz operated. The quiz was managed for the soft-news sofa-sitting specialists by telecoms services firm Opera Interactive Technology. Opera sales director Mark Nuttall allegedly sent an email to workers at the firm telling them "make sure they [GMTV] never find out you are picking the winners early!" in 2003. Ofcom and premium phone line watchdog ICSTIS are expected to launch an investigation into the allegations.

GMTV said it "knew nothing" of apparent irregularities by Opera. It denies any impropriety.

"GMTV knew nothing of this and is shocked to hear of these allegations," according to a statement from GMTV. "Just over a month ago GMTV instructed the city accountancy firm Deloitte to carry out a full, independent review of GMTV and Opera's current interactive systems and processes.

"The review has now been completed and we are confident, on the basis of Deloitte's findings and our own research, that our competitions are being operated fully in accordance with the codes - and that no finalists are being selected before lines have closed.

"We are investigating further but do anticipate bringing back our competitions as soon as possible," it added.

In a statement, Opera Interactive Technology said it had removed staf implicated in the alleged scandal pending an investigation. It said it has revamped its competition entry handling policy since the start of March and "all competition contestant entries throughout the entire competition period are now considered equally and fairly, whether handled directly by Opera Interactive Technology or by its telecommunications partners, using a randomised computer programme."

"Opera has in no way benefited financially from any errors in procedure in the past and will continue to keep its processes in line with any future OFCOM or ICSTIS guidelines," it added.

GMTV admitted that it had become the target of angry calls from its five million viewers as a result of the alleged fraud. Details of the allegation were due to be screened in an episode of Panorama, dubbed TV's Dirty Secrets, due to air on BBC1 at 8.30 on Monday.

Previous targets of complaints over TV phone-ins have included Richard and Judy, talent search the X Factor and even childrens' program Blue Peter. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Broadband Secretary of SHEEP sensationally quits Cabinet
Maria Miller finally resigns over expenses row
Skype pimps pro-level broadcast service
Playing Cat and Mouse with the media
Beat it, freetards! Dyn to shut down no-cost dynamic DNS next month
... but don't worry, charter members, you're still in 'for life'
Like Google, Comcast might roll its own mobile voice network
Says anything's possible if regulators approve merger with Time Warner
EE dismisses DATA-BURNING glitch with Orange Mail app
Bug quietly slurps PAYG credit - yet EE denies it exists
Turnbull leaves Australia's broadband blackspots in the dark
New Statement of Expectations to NBN Co offers get-out clauses for blackspot builds
Facebook claims 100 MEEELLION active users in India
Who needs China when you've got the next billion in your sights?
Facebook splats in-app chat, whacks brats into crack yakety-yak app
Jibber-jabbering addicts turfed out just as Zuck warned
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.