Mark Thompson, the DG of the BBC announced this afternoon that the BBC was suspending all phone competitions on TV and Radio at midnight tonight and interactive and online competitions will be taken down as soon as possible. Once again the main problem seems to be one of Staff posing as winners. Worse still from a PR point of view, three big charity events feature : Sports Relief, Comic Relief, and Children In Need. The programmes identified are:
Comic Relief – Friday 16 March 2007 on BBC One
A caller was heard on air answering a question to win prizes belonging to a famous couple when in fact the caller was a member of the production team.
TMi – 16 September 2006 on BBC Two and CBBC
A member of the production team posed as a member of the audience who had won a competition which was open to the public.
Sport Relief – 15 July 2006 on BBC One
Viewers were led to believe that a member of the public had won a competition open to the public when it was a member of the crew.
Children in Need – 18 November 2005 on BBC One Scotland
A fictitious competition winner was announced during a segment called Raven: The Island following technical problems.
The Liz Kershaw Show – 2005/6 on BBC 6 Music
During pre-recorded programmes presented as live, listeners were led to believe genuine competitions were held when in fact there were no contests or prizes and all callers were production staff or their friends.
White Label – World Service until April 2006
On more than once occasion a fake winner was announced when no winning entries had been received.
This comes on the same day that Ofcom has published the outcome of the inquiry, led by Richard Ayre, into the use of premium rate telephone numbers (PRS) in television programmes. The Ayre inquiry reveals a systemic failure by broadcasters, with some appearing to be in denial about their responsibilities to ensure programmes delivered on the transactions they offered to viewers.
The inquiry recommends: amending TV broadcasting licences (possibly also radio licences) to include requirements for consumer protection in relation to PRS; and to require independent third-party auditing of PRS activity and the issuing of further guidance on the Broadcasting Code and licence conditions relating to measures to minimise lost or wrongly-charged entries; fairness in competitions; and transparency in pricing. Ofcom intends to consult on the full recommendations as part of its broader Participation Television consultation, due to be published in the next few weeks. In addition, Ofcom will review the wider aspects of the co-regulatory relationship with ICSTIS