Regulators hand out more TV fines

Blue Peter and Richard & Judy penalised after telephone quiz investigations

The BBC and the company behind the Richard and Judy premium rate telephone quiz have both been fined by their respective regulators after investigations into telephone competition irregularities.

Ofcom, the media regulator, fined the BBC £50,000 after the results of a Blue Peter competition were faked last November. It is the first financial penalty imposed on the BBC since it became answerable to Ofcom. The fine will be paid out of licence-fee money.

The show had allowed a child visiting the studio to pose as a caller when technical problems stopped real calls getting through to the studio.

The watchdog criticised the BBC for “negligence” and for “making a child complicit” in the deception.

In a statement, the BBC said: “We regret that Ofcom found it necessary to impose a fine. As our previous statements have made clear, we fully accept the seriousness of this case and apologise for the breach of trust with our audiences.”

Meanwhile, premium rate services regulator Icstis imposed a record £150,000 penalty on Eckoh UK Ltd after an investigation into Channel 4’s Richard & Judy show.

It found viewers to the programme were urged to call its You Say, We Pay quiz after potential winners had been chosen. Icstis is referring the case to media regulator Ofcom for further investigation as to whether Channel 4 has breached the Broadcasting Code in connection with the incident.

Icstis chairman Sir Alistair Graham said the size of the fine reflected the “very serious nature” of the breach of its Code of Practice.

Icstis also ordered that refunds must be provided to all those affected.

Eckoh complained that it had been made a “scapegoat” and that it would consider appealing.