Five latest to suspend phonelines

Channel Five is the latest broadcaster to suspend all its programming involving premium rate telephone services following problems with its daily quiz show Brainteaser.

Endemol UK, part of the giant production house which also makes Big Brother, alerted Five to ‘issues’ concerning Brainteaser.

The decision is the latest in the industry, which has already seen ITV remove all premium-rate competitions from broadcast while undergoing an independent audit.

Five’s chief executive Jane Lighting said: “We are shocked and disappointed and wish to apologise unreservedly to our viewers. The production company involved has failed to meet the high standards we demand of our suppliers.

“We have decided to suspend any output which involves any premium rate services and to appoint an external auditor, though we have found no evidence of any issues involving any programmes other than Brainteaser.”

Endemol UK outlined five separate incidents, dating from January until Tuesday this week. Cheetah Television, a production subsidiary of Endemol, was unable to find a caller with the correct answer before the winner was due to be announced on air, after a five-minute window.

Instead of informing viewers that no winning caller had been found, the production company put fictional names on screen as ‘winners’ and on one occasion a member of the production team went on air as a ‘winning’ contestant.

Five has said affected callers will be given a full refund of the cost of the call.