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Watchdog announces TV phone-in probe

Move follows premium rate rows


A close-up of a telephone cord a man is using to make a call.

The use of premium rate phone lines on TV shows is to be probed by broadcast regulator Ofcom.

The move follows a series of high profile problems with television vote lines and phone-in competitions.

Premium-rate phone watchdog Icstis has already launched investigations into potential phone-in scams involving quizzes and voting lines by a number of shows.

Ofcom’s new inquiry will try to establish why there are so many problems in the sector.

It will look into possible breaches by everyone involved – including the broadcasters, TV producers and phone line operators.

Premium rate

The purpose of Ofcom’s inquiry is to come up with proposals to tighten up the sector and restore public confidence.

Ofcom Chief Executive, Ed Richards said: ‘Widespread concern about the use of premium rate telephone lines by broadcasters and editorial standards in those programmes has raised serious questions about trust between broadcasters and viewers. 

‘Ofcom has been monitoring the issue closely and has launched a number of individual investigations since the start of the year.  However it is clear from the number of cases underway that a broader set of issues need to be examined as a matter of priority. 

‘This inquiry will seek to establish the root cause of the compliance issues which have emerged over recent weeks, and inform key decisions about protecting consumers.’

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