BBC fined almost £100k for radio quiz fiddles

The BBC has been fined £95,000 for broadcasting pre-recorded quizzes which live listeners couldn’t win on Dermot O’Leary and Tony Blackburn’s radio shows.

The competitions ran on eight editions of O’Leary’s Radio 2 show in 2006 and five Tony Blackburn programmes on BBC London 94.9 in 2005 and 2006.

But all were pre-recorded, so there was no way to take part in them.

Media watchdog Ofcom, which imposed the fines, said it was ‘very concerned by the repeated, pre-meditated and deliberate decisions to include competitions in pre-recorded programmes that were broadcast ‘as live’.’

These decisions were made for purely ‘logistical’ reasons, and not because something had gone wrong.

O’Leary’s Saturday afternoon show was pre-recorded on eight occasions ‘due to the presenter’s other work commitments’, it said.

When the competitions were run, winners were selected from listeners who had contacted the show via the programme’s website or newsletter, it added.

BBC London 94.9, the BBC’s local radio station for London, was fined £25,000 and must also read the findings on-air.

Again, the breaches occurred when Blackburn’s Saturday lunchtime programme was pre-recorded.

The BBC, for its part, said in a statement that ‘these historical breaches were tackled by a comprehensive action plan launched by the BBC in July 2007.

“This included a major programme of training for over 19,000 staff, a new specialist unit to provide advice on all technical aspects of running competitions and a strict new code of conduct.”

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