Govt threatens to pull TV phone-ins

The Government could ban premium rate phone-ins if broadcasters fail to ‘clean up their act’, broadcasting minister Shaun Woodward has said.

Call-in quiz shows have come under fire in recent months for allegedly duping viewers. Richard and Judy, GMTV and Blue Peter have also been drawn into the scandal.

Mr Woodward said the Government took breaches ‘really very seriously’, reported the Mediaguardian website.

“In the same way the advertising of children’s junk food was banned, we would be prepared to do the same here, though of course I would much rather that it didn’t come to that and that the broadcasters got their own house in order,” he told the Broadcasting Press Guild.

The minister revealed he had attempted to enter a phone-in competition on the now defunct ITV Play channel, in order to investigate whether or not they were fair.

“This made me realise that there was an issue here long before it was put before the select committee,” he said.

Premium rate phone service regulator Icstis has already introduced tough new rules in an industry crackdown.

Quiz TV shows are now required to reveal the chances of a caller getting through by displaying on screen the total number of entrants.

And viewers must receive call cost warnings after each £10 spent dialling up a show.