ITV under fire after new phone-in shambles

  • 19 October 2007

A number of popular ITV entertainment shows have come under fire after an independent report found ‘serious editorial issues’ concerning phone-in competitions.

Shows hosted by Ant and Dec – including Saturday Night Takeaway and Ant and Dec’s Gameshow Marathon – are among those embroiled in the latest phone-in scandal to hit the broadcasting industry.

The pair’s Jiggy Bank game was singled out for criticism after it was revealed that the location for the game was chosen before would-be contestants phoned the show.

Also their Grab the Ad feature saw winners selected because they sounded ‘lively’.

It is claimed that viewers lost £6.3 million on the Ant and Dec shows alone.

ITV chairman Michael Grade attempted to head off calls for staff to be sacked, claiming a ‘witch hunt’ would prove fruitless, and said all viewers involved would be reimbursed.

The total cost of the clean up operation is expected to hit £18 million - £7.8 of which will be money reimbursing cheated viewers.

Ofcom could also impose a fine of up to £70 million for the deception.

Ant and Dec, who recently sealed a £30 million deal to remain with ITV, said they had no idea the problems existed.

Ant McPartlin commented: ‘We have been fully supportive of this review and are extremely disappointed to discover that these irregularities have occurred.’

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