Grade admits to serious cultural failure within ITV

ITV executive chairman Michael Grade has ordered a “tough” package of new measures to tackle premium rate services (PRS) failures following the partial publication of a review into the broadcaster’s operations. He admits there was a “serious cultural failure” within ITV.

The broadcaster has also offered a £7.8m reimbursement with any unclaimed funds donated to charity.

The review, by auditor Deloitte, was ordered in March along with the immediate suspension of all PRS activity, following concerns raised over the use of premium services in its programmes and across UK TV.

Out of more than 60 ITV series reviewed, serious editorial issues were identified in three ITV programmes: Soapstar Superstar 2007; Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway 2005 and 2006; and Ant and Dec’s Gameshow Marathon 2005. The British Comedy Awards 2005 is the subject of a separate investigation by media law firm Olswang.

The Deloitte review also highlighted serious technical issues around the use of red button for voting and the late arrival of SMS text votes on five occasions affecting two ITV shows, including the X Factor final 2005. However, the problems did not alter the actual outcome of those votes, says the broadcaster.

Grade says: “Today marks a major milestone in our efforts to restore public trust and put our house in order after a series of events that have affected not just us, but the entire broadcasting industry.”

He adds: “My overall conclusion from the review is that there was a serious cultural failure within ITV.”

Grade has ordered the immediate suspension of all text and red button voting in live programmes. The suspension will only be lifted when the network and platform operators can reassure ITV that “appropriate systems” were in place. However, SMS and red button will continue to be offered for non-time critical competitions and activity.

He also outlined a number of training programmes and revealed some systems would be brought in-house.

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