Red button dodges phone-in scandals

Viewers are increasingly using the red button and interactive television services despite revelations that UK broadcasters have misled the public and mishandled premium rate phone services, according to new research.

Red%20ButtonViewers are increasingly using the “red button” and interactive television services despite revelations that UK broadcasters have misled the public and mishandled premium rate phone services, according to new research.

The research, carried out by MORI, shows that negative publicity over fraudulent premium rate competitions has done little to reduce customers’ appetites for using the services.

The polling company says that despite broadcasters and phone services operators admitting to abusing the trust of viewers, customers are continuing to use premium services such as red button interactivity.

Its findings echo comments made by ITV executive chairman Michael Grade that there was still a big place for interactive TV. After announcing the results of a review by independent auditor Deloitte, Grade said: “There is no question that there is a huge public appetite for becoming involved in programmes.”

ITV1 reality show Dancing On Ice received its biggest phone-in response despite scandals affecting broadcasters including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five beginning to break in February and March.

Ipsos-MORI conducted field≠work between May and July, as the aftermath of the scandals continued to dominate newspaper headlines. Its results show that 29% of respondents press the red button at least once a week and four in ten interact with shows on a monthly basis. Furthermore, 45% of those using red button services still agree it adds to the enjoyment of the programme.

The Deloitte report uncovered a number of serious technical issues around the use of the 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.

Grade ordered the imediate suspension of all text and red button voting in live programmes although activity would continue for “non-time critical” competitions.

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