Ofcom has today fined Channel Four Television Corporation a total of 1.5 million for misconduct in viewer competitions in the Richard and Judy (You Say We Pay competition) and Deal or no Deal programmes.
Channel Four 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;
Rule 10.10 of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code "Any use of premium rate numbers must comply with the Code of Practice issued by ICSTIS" (now re-named as PhonepayPlus); 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 investigations found Channel Four in breach of the Code for the following types of misconduct:
Early selection - picking competition finalists before lines had closed in the Richard + Judy 'You Say We Pay' competition. This meant that viewers, calling to enter competitions after the shortlist had been compiled, stood no chance of becoming a finalist as the early selection had already taken place.
Staggered selection - operating a staggered selection for selecting finalists in both the Richard + Judy 'You Say We Pay' and the Deal or no Deal competitions. Ofcom found this selection process created unfair odds which meant that viewers entering the competition were not given a fair and equal chance of winning. In particular, later entrants had a lower statistical probability of being shortlisted as a potential winner, compared to those who entered earlier.
Ofcom has also directed Channel Four to broadcast a summary of both Ofcoms findings into Richard and Judy (You Say We Pay competition) and Deal or no Deal programmes on three separate occasions.