Icstis chair Graham to warn broadcasters that fake phone-ins ‘will not be tolerated’

Richard%20%26%20JudyThe chairman of premium rates service regulator Icstis will today (Wednesday) call on the broadcasting industry to clean up its act after a “worrying upsurge” in complaints about TV phone-ins and competitions.

Sir Alistair Graham will tell the industry that/ “Never again must viewers and consumers be treated like this. It will not be tolerated.”

The call is being made as the regulator publishes its annual review and follows the record £150,000 fine imposted by Icstis on telephony service provider Eckoh for Richard and Judy’s You Say, We Pay competition, broadcast on Channel 4.

In 2006/07 a quarter of Icstis’ complaints were related to TV competitions and broadcast quiz shows, despite the total number of industry-wide consumer complaints decreasing by 43%. The most significant complaints related to Channel 4’s Big Brother.

Graham will also say that viewers “become consumers” when they pay to participate in radio and television phone-in competitions and they should be treated as such.

The body is also creating an industry support team and compliance unit to prevent problems arising. Head of communications Parool Patel, who joined from agency Saatchi & Saatchi earlier this year, says it is part of a push by the regulator to be pro-active.

He warns: “Marketers must understand their legal responsibilities in using premium rate numbers to promote their projects, campaigns and also call centre activities. The public should never feel cheated or be misled in any way.”

Icstis is rebranding as PhonePayPlus in October in an attempt to become more relevant and consumer focused (MW June 14).

Media regulator Ofcom is also investigating the use of premium rate services.

This week the watchdog fined the BBC children’s show Blue Peter £50,000 for having studio guests pose as telephone competition entrants.

Five was hit with a fine of £300,000 for faking the winners of a phone-in quiz on Brainteaser.

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