Remember the Richard and Judy ‘You Say We Pay’ fiasco (viewers were still asked to ring in despite a winner already being chosen)? Do you recall Panorama exposing the way some GMTV competitions were run (potential winners were short-listed before phone lines closed, meaning some callers never had the chance of getting through)?
Let’s not forget our beloved Blue Peter – Blue bloody Peter, of all shows! – faking a competition result, earning the BBC a huge fine. Who remembers the shock when it was first revealed that Five’s Brainteaser show had also faked winners? How about the phone-in controversy prompted by ITV play? The competitions came under fire for being almost impossible to solve. One asked viewers to name items found in a woman’s handbag and the answers included a balaclava and rawlplugs. Oh yeah, forget lipstick and perfume ‘cos yer average WAG wouldn’t be seen dead without her balaclava and rawlplugs. Definitely two things I never leave the house without.
These phone-in scandals, and so many more besides, prompted media regulator Ofcom to launch an enquiry. They concluded that there has been a "systemic failure" in the way TV channels have run premium rate phone services. Well, duh.
Ofcom also accused broadcasters of being "in denial" about their responsibilities to viewers. Probably because they were blinded by the revenue the phone-ins brought in. The Ofcom inquiry, which was led by Richard Ayre, concluded that broadcasters must be made directly responsible for using premium rate phonelines despite services often being handled by outside companies.
Despite my smugness at the fact that I am not a victim (I have never phoned, and will never phone, a premium rate quiz show/competition. I do not vote people off Big Brother or into the next round of The X Factor either), millions of people put their trust, and their money, into the channels concerned. If these premium line phone-in entrants want to waste their time and their money, that’s their choice. But at the very least, they should not have to deal with duplicity.
One of the great ironies of all of this is GMTV’s exposure by Panorama. Despite peppering the show with numerous premium rate competitions, they still love positioning themselves as the champion of the consumer. I really wish people wouldn’t enter rip-off TV competitions and I pray for the day annoying quiz shows, which are a piss-poor excuse for entertainment, are dropped. I never thought I’d miss the phrase: "Answers on a postcard please" as much as I now do…
Today I am mostly lovin’ – Brian. For his hilarious Diary Room chat with a ‘depressed’ Big Brother
Today I am mostly hatin’ – Daytime TV. No wonder so many people are on Prozac.