ITV suspends premium rate services

ITV is suspending all its premium rate interactive services from tomorrow after calling in auditors to investigate. The review will cover all premium rate landline, mobile (excluding pay downloads) and red button activity.

The broadcaster says it is acting in light of “recent concern surrounding premium interactive services”. ITV last week admitted overcharging Sky viewers who voted in the last series of X Factor via the red button, as reported on marketingweek.co.uk. It says it will pay back affected viewers and donate £200,000 to charity.

It has appointed Deloitte as the independent auditor to conduct the review.

Interactive elements will return programme by programme as soon as they have passed the scrunity of the independent audit, which will cover ITV productions, co-productions and independent productions. The review will look at existing procedures to make sure they are robust. A retrospective review will also be undertaken, going back two years. ITV says it intends to make the findings of the review public.

ITV chief operating officer John Cresswell calls it “a concern across the whole industry”. He says: “It is critical that our viewers have absolute confidence in the services that we offer.” He adds that all programmes on air are believed to be “compliant” but that following concern around the issue, which affects “every major broadcaster” it was important to ensure ITV was meeting all relevant codes and regulations.

The broadcaster was also reported to be probing the premium rate phone quiz on the Saturday Night Takeaway show. The service was run by Eckoh, the phone company also involved in Channel Four’s Richard and Judy You Say, We Pay competition where viewers were encouraged to call in after lines had closed.

The BBC has also been drawn into the debate after it was revealed viewers were being urged to call “live” Saturday Kitchen show, which had been prerecorded.

The ITV audit comes just days before the commercial broadcaster unveils its year results to the City on Wednesday.

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