Eckoh fined £150K over Richard & Judy quiz

'Reckless disregard for viewers'

The premium-rate regulator, ICSTIS, has completed its investigation into allegations against the quiz "You say, we pay", and concluded that Eckoh, which ran the competition, should pay a £150,000 fine for their "reckless disregard for viewers".

Punters were encouraged to call up, at a quid a time, in the hope of being selected to play the game during the show. What they didn't know was that the players had been selected 20 minutes before the lines closed: ISCTIS reckons that 47 per cent of calls came in during that last 20 minutes.

Every day at 17.15 Eckoh sent a list of those who had been selected to the production company - Cactus TV - but the phone lines didn't close until 17.48, so it's hard to credit that Cactus didn't notice the anomaly. But ICSTIS only deals with companies running premium-rate services, in this case Eckoh.

Since October 2004, around a million people have taken part in the quiz, which means Eckoh has made £470,000 from calls received after the lines had closed. With 60 per cent going in prizes, that makes a £282,000 profit from the scam, though that would still have to be divided between the companies involved.

Eckoh has 20 days to appeal against the decision, though it has contested the findings so far and have cooperated fully with the investigation. Its main bone of contention seems to be that no one else is being blamed, despite the fact that many people must have known what was going on.

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