BBC Cancels Interactive Contests Across Platforms, Suspends Senior Staff Over Phoney Phone-Ins

The BBC has canceled all competitions across radio, TV, interactive and online, as the U.K.’s snowballing participation TV scandal unearthed more transgressions at the corporation. Regulatory inquiries launched earlier this year, after channels operating phone-in or SMS contests were found to have placed fake contestants, have uncovered more and more such examples. Now the under-pressure BBC has admitted six more shows, including charity extravaganzas Children In Need, Comic Relief and Sport Relief, also faked phone-in winners when producers posed as contestants. Senior editorial staff have been suspended pending a review, Guardian reports.

Media regulator Ofcom’s report in to the issue, released yesterday, suggested the whole thing is a mess – while they blame lack of clarity between Ofcom and premium-rate phone regulator ICSTIS, broadcasters are “in denial about their responsibilities” and are guilty of “systematic compliance failures”. TV participation through the likes of phone-ins and mobile messaging is now a common practice, but it is not just emblematic of the interactive media age – until this recent episode, it was fast becoming an important income stream. Earlier in the year, ITV took its ITV Play call-TV channel off the air.