The BBC is to make an onscreen apology after admitting it kept £106,000 from premium rate phone-ins that should have gone to charity. The revelation comes a day after ITV was fined a record £5.675m by regulator Ofcom for its failures over premium-rate services.
The corporation has today (May 9) issued a statement following the publication of reports by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ronald Neil. The Neil Report was commissioned by BBC Trust, the corporation’s governance body, following a string of scandals across the industy including BBC shows such as Comic Relief and Blue Peter.
The reports reveal that £106,000 which should have gone to charity was retained by service provider Audiocall. The sum relates to calls made to a number of shows outside of voting windows over a two-year period, ending in August 2007. “This was a serious oversight by Audiocall, which must never be allowed to happen again,” the BBC says in a statement.
Separately, in one instance in the show Eurovision: Making Your Mind Up 2007, “communication problems” meant a large volume of calls came in when the lines were not open. The sums due to charity have now been repaid with interest, the BBC says.
“Throughout our response to the discovery that some BBC programmes had fallen short of our high standards we have consistently disclosed all instances and outlined to the public the action we are taking to put things right. There are early signs that this has contributed to a restoration of public trust. We do not take that trust for granted.”
The BBC says a number of “tough steps” have been taken since last summer, which the reports praise. Steps included staff training, a new code of conduct for the use of premium rate telephony and a “centre of excellence” to provide expertise on and oversee such services.