BBC hit with 400k fines by Ofcom

The BBC has been fined a record £400,000 by Ofcom following the series of ‘faked’ phone-ins.

The media watchdog imposed the fines after viewers were misled by phone-in competitions on Comic Relief, Children in Need and Sport Relief TV shows, plus Liz Kershaw on 6 Music and Jo Whiley’s Radio 1 show.

Ofcom said: “The BBC deceived its audience by faking winners of competitions and deliberately conducting competitions unfairly.”

Viewers were urged to call some BBC programmes after contestants had already been chosen.

Other shows had been pre-recorded, so nobody could win apparently ‘live’ competitions.

The affected shows were fined individually, totalling £400,000. They were:

* Comic Relief (BBC One, March 2007) – £45,000

* Sport Relief (BBC One, July 2006) – £45,000

* Children in Need (BBC One Scotland, November 2005) – £35,000

* TMi (BBC Two and CBBC, September 2006) – £50,000

* Liz Kershaw Show (BBC 6 Music, May 2005 to January 2006) – £115,000

* Jo Whiley Show (BBC Radio 1, 20 April to 12 May 2006) – £75,000

* Russell Brand (BBC 6 Music, April 2006) – £17,500

* Clare McDonnell Show (BBC 6 Music, from September 2006) – £17,500

In a statement, the BBC said the issues had been taken ‘extremely seriously’ all along, with apologies made and ‘an unprecedented action plan’ to deal with the matters raised.

IN May, ITV was hit with £5.68 million in fines by Ofcom.