400k fine for BBC phone-in fakery

Ofcom penalises repeated breaches of viewer trust in broadcast competitions

Ofcom has today fined the BBC a record £400,000 for “very serious” breaches of the Broadcasting Code after the broadcaster deceived its audience by faking winners of competitions and “deliberately conducting competitions unfairly”. 

The largest single fine – £115k – was imposed for the repeated occasions when the Liz Kershaw programme on BBC 6 Music was recorded, but broadcast as live, included competitions in which listeners obviously stood no chance of winning.

Investigations by the broadcasting regulator into a number of television and radio programmes 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.

Imposing its largest ever fine on the BBC, Ofcom found that the broadcaster had failed to have adequate management oversight of its compliance and training procedures to ensure that the audience was not misled.

Although 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.