ITV has admitted that it owes £7.8 million to viewers stung by a series of TV phone-in scandals.
The admission comes after an independent report found that there were serious editorial issues in three shows, including Soapstar Superstar 2007.
The other two shows affected were Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway 2005 and 2006, and Ant and Dec’s Gameshow Marathon 2005.
ITV Chairman Michael Grade said the review had highlighted a ‘serious cultural failure’ within the company.
Around 10 million calls were affected by the premium rate blunders and a total of 8.57 million callers had been misled and are now eligible for refunds. Any money not claimed will be donated to charity.
While premium-rate phone services have now returned to ITV, Mr Grade announced the immediate suspension of all text and red-button voting during live shows. He said they would remain suspended until the broadcaster was satisfied they were working correctly.
Mr Grade said the move was ‘a major milestone in our efforts to restore public trust and put our house in order after a series of events that have affected not just us, but the entire broadcasting industry’.
He added: ‘I knew when I commissioned this work that it might make for deeply uncomfortable reading. But it has been a necessary and vital process. It is only by understanding how things went wrong in the past, and being open about them, that we can be sure that we get them right now and in the future.’
Ant and Dec said they had not been aware of the phone-in scandals and were “extremely disappointed” by what had happened.
Ant McPartlin said: ‘We’d like to make it clear that we had no idea these problems existed.
‘We have been fully supportive of this review and are extremely disappointed to discover that these irregularities have occurred.
‘We fully support the changes that have been made within the programme as a result, and we’re 100% behind ITV’s decision to reimburse all the viewers who were affected.’
Consumers affected by the phone-in problems have up until 29 February, 2008 to claim their refund.
They should contact ITV on the Freephone number 0800 028 0180 or via www.ITV.com/competitions.