Channel 4 has been fined £1.5m by media regulator Ofcom for misconducting viewer competitions in Richard & Judy and Deal or no Deal programmes. The fine follows a record £2m fine handed out to breakfast broadcaster GMTV in September.
Ofcom has criticised Channel 4 for picking competition finalists before lines had closed in the Richard & Judy “You Say We Pay” (pictured) competition and for operating staggered selection in both programmes, creating unfair odds.
The media watchdog has also ordered Channel 4 to broadcast a summary of both Ofcom’s findings into Richard & Judy and Deal or no Deal programmes on three separate occasions.
Channel 4 says it will also donate an additional £600,000 to charity after being found in breach of the broadcasting code. The donation, to the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, follows an earlier £300,000 already pledged.
In August, an investigation by Channel 4 in association with external law firm, Wiggin LLP, discovered that 2.9 million calls to You Say We Pay were not properly entered because winners’ shortlists were sent by phone service provider Eckoh to production company Cactus TV before the phone lines had closed.
The investigation prompted Channel 4 to withdraw from “profit making” premium-rate competitions.
Eckoh was fined £150,000 by premium-rate phone regulator, PhonepayPlus (formerly ICSTIS), in July for failing to enter all calls to the You Say We Pay competition correctly. The telephone service provider for Deal or No Deal, i-Touch, was fined £30,000 by PhonepayPlus in August for the use of the staggered selection procedure.
Channel 4 says it will start legal action against Eckoh to recover costs incurred as a result of non-compliance of codes in the You Say We Pay competition.