Feeds

GMTV suspends phone-ins over scam allegations

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

Remote control for virtualized desktops

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. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
Virgin Media struck dumb by NATIONWIDE packet loss balls-up
Turning it off and on again fixes glitch 12 HOURS LATER
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.