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More dodgy phone-ins cost BBC £400,000

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The never-ending TV and radio phone-in scandal prompted more embarrassment at the BBC today, as Ofcom hit the corporation with fines totalling £400,000.

More than half a dozen shows are included in the latest round of wrist-slapping, including the charity fundraising drives Comic Relief and Children in Need. Broadcasting watchdogs levied their biggest penalty against 6 Music's Liz Kershaw Show, which cost licence fee payers £115,000 by repeatedly running pre-recorded "live" competitions between May 2005 and January 2006.

The investigation was launched after flagship kids' show Blue Peter was caught faking winners last year. The BBC briefly suspended all phone-in competitions, and trained 19,000 staff in how not to swindle viewers and abuse trust.

In response to today's fines, it said: "Ofcom has recognised that neither the BBC nor any member of staff made any money from these serious editorial lapses.

"Whilst we must never be complacent and must remain constantly vigilant, audience research suggests the comprehensive action we have taken is rebuilding the trust of viewers and listeners."

For its massively profitable bent competitions wheeze ITV was hit with a record £5.67m Ofcom fine earlier this year. ®

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