ITV faces £4m fine over phone-in scam

Ofcom could slap ITV with a record fine after a six-month probe into premium phone line deception on some of the channel’s biggest shows.

The proposed fine is thought to be around £4 million, although the final sum has yet to be confirmed, according to MediaGuardian.co.uk.

The media watchdog is about to publish its verdict on the premium rate phone line scandals involving key ITV shows such as Saturday Night Takeaway and Soapstar Superstar.

It was revealed that viewers wasted £7.8 million phoning in for competitions they had no chance of winning.

The fine is set to be more than double the record £2m handed to GMTV in September 2007, after it was found that viewers had wasted up to £35 million entering competitions they had no chance of winning.

Under the terms of its licence, ITV could have been fined up to five per cent of its qualifying revenue – a total of £70 million.

But Ofcom is still expected to be damning in its criticism of a broadcaster which viewed premium phone line revenue as a replacement for plummeting advertising revenue.

Last night, ITV said it was “not aware of the exact timing or outcome of Ofcom’s judgment”.

An Ofcom spokesman added: “We would not comment on an investigation that has not concluded. If there was to be a fine for any broadcaster it wouldn’t be communicated until immediately prior to publication.”

Click here to read the full Media Guardian story.

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