New Ofcom Rules Would Cause Much Call-TV Income To Dry Up

Well, it was fun for the broadcasters while it lasted. Ofcom has proposed new rules that all but kill interactive TV shows that exist solely to make money. Amongst the new regs…

— Premium-rate phone calling “must not be given undue prominence” within shows.
— Shows “must consist primarily of content other than the promotion of the premium-rate service”.
— “The primary purpose of the programme must be editorial”.

That means talent shows like Pop Idol and I’d Do Anything are safe – but late-night quizzes catering to inebriated students and hard-up insomniacs appear on shaky ground. ITV (LSE: ITV) canned its ITV Play channel that consisted mainly of such games last year in the wake of the UK’s participation TV scandal.

Participation TV was popularised a couple of years ago by European broadcasters looking to make up for falling TV ad revenue in the interactive age, but fell on sticky times last year following a wave of fraudulent productions that prompted a regulatory crackdown (ITV has since moved its ITV Play brand online and later rebranded it merely ITV Games). Ofcom: “Quiz, psychic and adult chat TV as currently broadcast will need to change significantly in order to comply“. A six-week consultation has begun.