GMTV hit by 40m phone-in scandal

GMTV, the ITV1 flagship breakfast show, has become the latest programme to become embroiled in the premium-rate phone-in scandal following a BBC investigation. Allegations that it has “fleeced viewers” of up to £40m will be made in tonight’s Panorama.

The show will claim that Opera Interactive Technology, which works for GMTV, has been finalising shortlists of potential winners “long before” phone lines closed, for the past four years. It estimates people spent £45,000 a day – or £10m a year – trying to enter the GMTV competitions.

Panorama says tens of thousands of calls and texts had been made to GMTV competitions every morning since 2003, but Opera had finalised shortlists of potential winners before the phone lines closed.

It further alleges Opera sales director Mark Nuttall had discovered what was going on in 2003 and sent an e-mail to staff telling them to keep it secret from GMTV.

GMTV, which is co-owned by ITV and Disney, has suspended all phone-in quizzes but says it is “confident” it has not breached regulators’ codes. Opera also denies any wrongdoing.

In a statement, GMTV said the Panorama investigation had uncovered “certain irregularities” in the way Opera had managed its interactive services but GMTV had not been aware of these irregularities.

GMTV says it conducted an independent review last month into its and Opera’s interactive systems and processes. It was carried out by consultancy Deloitte.

The claims made by Panorama are the latest in a series of allegations concerning the use by TV broadcasters of premium-rate phone lines to raise revenue.

Latest from Marketing Week

NOT REGISTERED? IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here