Could the U.K.’s participation TV scandal be replicated elsewhere around the world? This Hollywood Reporter feature suggests broadcasters in other countries are getting nervous, too. When a Channel 4 show was in February found to have deceived viewers in to making call-in entries for competitions they stood no chance of winning, it lifted the lid on a series of similar deceptions across all major channels and a subsequent regulatory crackdown. Reporter: “The tidal wave of tawdry revelations emerging from the U.K. has spurred a global tightening of procedures as well as the fervent hope that such toxic outflow will not wash up on other shores.”
– Germany: State media regulator LMK’s Barbara Beck tells the Reporter similar individual cases are suspected in Germany but there is no evidence; rules were tightened in June, but Beck warned it remains easy for shows to make money by continuing to transgress.
– Italy: The government acknowledges “any kind of cheating is possible” and regulators are lobbying for more powers to stamp it out.
– Belgium: Media regulator CSA’s Jean-Francois Furnemont: “The new legislation [introduced in January] means that any call-in TV program needs to be cleared by the gaming commission.” Belgium boasts some of Europe’s strongest safeguards, with oversight shared between media and gambling regulators, and appears similar to proposals mooted in the U.K.
– Netherlands: New rules the government last week said are being drawn up are unusually proscriptive, including a limit on the number of call-in TV shows and a cap on the length of shows and the size of prize money. Call-in game show addicts will also get state help.
– Russia: TNT’s Money On The Phone show was able to exploit a loophole in out-of-date legislation, exempting it from gambling legislation on $1.50-per-minute premium call-ins even though only one in 100 contestants had a shot at winning. The extent to which these shows can be considered gambling is a key theme – that’s why the chance of winning is so important.
– China: Broadcasters have been ordered to “stop irregular activities” immediately after complaints about call costs and chances of competition entry success – somewhat easier, since operators are largely state-controlled. All four of its telcos have resolved not to give services to shows in which contestants have too small a chance of success.