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GMTV denies phone-in ‘fraud’ claims

It says its competitions don't break the rules


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

GMTV attempted to reassure viewers on air today that its competitions were run fairly, after claims that people entering the breakfast show’s phone-in quizzes were being fleeced out of money.

According to BBC’s Panorama, some callers and texters to GMTV stood no chance of winning because shortlists of potential winners were drawn up ‘long before’ phone lines closed.

This morning, the show’s presenters Andrew Castle and Fiona Phillips read out a statement from GMTV saying it ‘knew nothing’ of apparent irregularities by its telecoms provider, Opera Telecom, in the past.

Premium rate

‘GMTV knew nothing of this and is shocked to hear of these allegations,’ the statement said.

‘Just over a month ago GMTV instructed the city accountancy firm Deloitte to carry out a full, independent review of GMTV and Opera’s current interactive systems and processes.

‘The review has now been completed and we are confident, on the basis of Deloitte’s findings and our own research, that our competitions are being operated fully in accordance with the codes – and that no finalists are being selected before lines have closed. We are investigating further but do anticipate bringing back our competitions as soon as possible.’

The breakfast show made the statement on air in response to a ‘fair amount of anger’ from viewers in the wake of the allegations.

Phone competitions

Panorama claims that tens of thousands of calls and texts were made to GMTV competitions every morning for the past four years.

It alleges that Opera finalised shortlists of potential winners ‘long before’ the phone lines closed and once they had been picked, subsequent callers had no chance of winning.

The BBC investigation said the amount of money people spent trying to enter the competitions was an estimated £45,000 a day, or £10 million a year.

Phone operator Opera Interactive Technology told the documentary there was ‘not a shred of truth’ in the allegations.

Icstsis investigation

Panorama, which will be broadcast on BBC1 at 8.30pm tonight, will also make a number of claims about The Richard And Judy Show and Blue Peter.

Premium rate watchdog Icstis has launched a formal investigation into Channel 4’s Richard And Judy.

BBC’s Blue Peter recently apologised because a member of the show’s production team asked a girl visiting the studio to pose as the winning contestant in a phone-in competition because of a ‘technical problem’.

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