BBC fined 400,000 for pre-mediated fake quizes
Whilst Ofcom notes that viewers and listeners paid the cost of their calls to take part in these competitions the BBC did not receive any money from the entries" it states "in each of these cases the BBC deceived its audience by faking winners of competitions and deliberately conducting competitions unfairly".
"The investigations found that in some cases, the production team had taken pre-mediated decisions to broadcast competitions and encourage listeners to enter in the full knowledge that the audience stood no chance of winning. In other cases, programmes faced with technical problems, made up the names of winners."
The fines were:
- Liz Kershaw Show, BBC 6 Music on 1 May 2005 -6 January 2006: 115,000
- The Jo Whiley Show, BBC Radio 1 on 20 April - 12 May 2006: 75,000
- TMi, BBC2 and CBBC on 16 September 2006: 50,000
- Comic Relief, BBC1 on 16 March 2007: 45,000
- Sport Relief, BBC1 on 15 July 2006: 45,000
- Children in Need, BBC1 (Scotland) on 18 November 2005: 35,000
- Russell Brand, BBC 6 Music on 9 April 2006: 17,500
- The Clare McDonnell Show, BBC 6 Music from September 2006: 17,500
The BBC Trust response is:
"Ofcom's decisions today relate to cases considered by the BBC Trust in 2007 which led to remedial action by the BBC and significant changes in the way the BBC complies competitions and programmes. The Trust regrets that these serious breaches by the BBC have led to a financial penalty being applied by Ofcom and the loss of licence fee payers' money as a result.
Ofcom requires compliance with its Broadcasting Code and can impose sanctions when a broadcaster breaches that code. We recognise that the penalty in these cases reflects that the breaches were serious, deliberate and in some cases repeated.
It is the job of the BBC Trust to ensure that the right lessons are learned by the BBC when breaches occur 'of our own Editorial Guidelines or the Ofcom Code' and that the actions taken by the BBC management safeguard against the same thing happening in future. The BBC made a public apology last summer and a firm commitment to put its house in order. After management implemented its action plan, the Trust commissioned an independent assessment, not just of whether what had been promised had been delivered, but whether the actions were having the right impact. We published our report in May which found clear evidence that the steps being taken would prevent a repeat of the practices that led to the failures. These editorial failures were serious and, through our work, we are confident they have been taken seriously by those involved. Our concern now is ensuring that the highest editorial standards are maintained to safeguard the public's trust."
The BBC Management add:
"We accept Ofcom's findings.
We have taken these issues extremely seriously from the outset, apologising to our audiences and putting in place an unprecedented action plan to tackle the issues raised.
This includes a comprehensive programme of training for over 19,000 staff, rigorous new technical protections, new guidance to programme-makers on the running of competitions and a strict new Code of Conduct.
Ofcom has recognised that neither the BBC nor any member of staff made any money from these serious editorial lapses.
Whilst we must never be complacent and must remain constantly vigilant, audience research suggests the comprehensive action we have taken is rebuilding the trust of viewers and listeners."