ITV in firing line over viewer phonelines

Hit ITV shows including The X Factor and Ant And Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway have come under fire in a report into viewer phonelines, according to The Sun.

The paper reports that executives at the channel face losing their jobs in the wake of the report – which was ordered after it was revealed that thousands of viewers had paid a pound to enter a competition on Saturday Night Takeaway, even though contestants had already been chosen.

Other shows, such as Soapstar Superstar, Vernon Kay’s Gameshow Marathon and I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here are also reportedly ‘named and shamed’ in the report, due out on Thursday.

Programmes including This Morning and Dancing On Ice were given the all-clear in the report.

The network’s executive chairman Michael Grade is now set to demand that viewers be refunded, which will cost the channel millions – while ITV’s entertainment chief Mark Wells may be forced to quit.

“The report is disastrous. It makes terrible reading,” a senior ITV executive told the paper.

The problems with Saturday Night Takeaway – which centred on the show’s Grab The Ads competition – first came to light in March 2007.

There is no suggestion that Ant and Dec had any knowledge of viewers still being charged after the contestants had been chosen.