Channel 4 and Five TV quizzes break Ofcom rules

Ofcom has rapped Channel 4 and Five for airing “unfair” quiz competitions. It has also issued a note to broadcasters about call TV quiz services, citing “serious concerns” about growing complaints relating to the conduct of some competitions…

Ofcom has rapped Channel 4 and Five for airing “unfair” quiz competitions. It has also issued a note to broadcasters about call TV quiz services, citing “serious concerns” about growing complaints relating to the conduct of some competitions.

The regulator has ruled that Word Association, a game show on the Quiz Call channel previously owned by Channel 4, and the Quiz Call show on Five were in breach of Ofcom rule 2.11.

During an edition of Quiz Call aired on Five on September 17 last year, a viewer questioned the validity of an answer in a competition called Piggy Bank. Ofcom has criticised the broadcaster for labelling the question “easy” when Five had previously said that the show’s approval team categorised Piggy Bank as a “difficult mathematics” game.

Later that month during an episode of Word Association aired on September 24 last year, the viewers were asked to name “things in Australia”. A clue to one of the answers – Alice – was shown on screen and was followed by seven asterisks and seven blanks. The presenter then incorrectly thought that the answer was “Alice Springs” and wrongly asked viewers for a seven letter word that follows “Alice”. The “correct” answer was Alice Springs Camel Cup, which Ofcom has ruled was almost impossible for callers to have considered.

In a note issued to broadcasters today Ofcom has reiterated the requirement of its broadcasting code that competitions are conducted “fairly”.

Ofcom is also investigating a number of other cases but it says that it considers it necessary to remind broadcasters not to broadcast wrong answers as correct; inaccurate or misleading clues or to set challenges that are “almost impossible” for anyone in the audience to meet.

It follows a wider inquiry into the use of premium rate telecoms services in television programmes that Ofcom announced last week.

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Tom Fishburne is founder of Marketoon Studios. Follow his work at marketoonist.com or on Twitter @tomfishburne See more of the Marketoonist here

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