Ofcom has today fined GMTV 2,000,000 for misconduct in viewer competitions between August 2003 and February 2007. This is the largest financial penalty to be imposed against a broadcaster by Ofcom.
GMTV was found in breach of the following rules:
Rule 2.11 of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code, which came into effect on 25 July 2005, Competitions should be conducted fairly; and
Rule 8.2(b) of the ITC (Independent Television Commission) Code 2002 "Use of Premium Rate Telephone Services in Programmes: The licensee must retain control of and responsibility for the service arrangements....".
In particular, Ofcom's investigation found the following types of misconduct in GMTV competitions:
Early selection - picking competition finalists before lines had closed. This meant that substantial numbers of viewers who entered the competition stood no chance of being entered into the competition;
15/5 method - selecting 15 competition finalists between 06.00 - 08.30 and the remaining five at 09.00 after the lines had closed. Viewers calling between 08.30 - 09.00 therefore had significantly less chance of being selected as a finalist than those who entered before 08.30; and
Final Five - selecting the final five competition finalists before the lines had closed.
Ofcom has also directed GMTV to broadcast a summary of Ofcoms finding on three separate occasions.
The full Adjudication is available here. This is one of a number of current Ofcom investigations into individual programmes in the area of Participation TV. These are being dealt with on a case-by-case basis, Ofcom will be concluding these investigations over the next few months.