Icstis warns radio stations over phone-ins

Radio must “get its house in order” to avoid being dragged into the debacle over quiz shows and premium rate services that has already engulfed TV, says premium phone line regulator Icstis.

Radio must “get its house in order” to avoid being dragged into the debacle over quiz shows and premium rate services that has already engulfed TV, says premium phone line regulator Icstis.

Icstis chief executive George Kidd (pictured) says that he plans to contact radio industry body RadioCentre to take the debate forward. Kidd’s comments were made as LBC, the Chrysalis Radio-owned speech station, was drawn into the debate after Channel 4 News alleged it has been running premium rate quizzes without telling listeners that their entries would cost £1.50 per time.

Over the weekend, Virgin Radio has also admitted that it has been inviting listeners to text in for record requests during a Saturday night show with Suggs, but it does not explain that the show is often pre-recorded.

Kidd says the radio industry needs to address concerns over text and phone votes but warns that the issue also affects areas of programming such as participation shows that invite listeners to call in with their views.

Kidd says: “We ought to be talking to RadioCentre. How and to what extent we need to have parallel conversations with individual radio companies I don’t yet know.”

The Ulster Television Group announced last month that it was to launch a phone-in quiz show Cash Time across its UK local radio stations, while GCap Media has run Cash Call across its One Network stations since June. The Cash Call slot, which is not ad-funded but supported entirely from premium rate phone calls, takes a similar format to shows aired on ITV quiz channel ITV Play, which is currently off air.

Television shows being investigated by Icstis include Richard and Judy, whose You Say We Pay competition prompted the debate. Viewers were encouraged to keep calling at £1 a time, despite competition contestants having already been chosen. ITV’s X Factor, I’m a Celebrity, Soapstar Superstar, BBC show Saturday Kitchen and Channel 5’s Brainteaser are also under investigation.

All broadcasters will be required to undertake a two-week audit of programming to make sure they do not break premium rate rules.

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