Telecoms regulator Ofcom has launched an inquiry into the use of premium rate phone lines on TV shows.

It comes after a string of high-profile problems with vote lines and phone-in competitions for 23 shows including Blue Peter, Richard & Judy and X Factor.

Ofcom said its inquiry followed ‘serious concerns’ that a number of broadcasters had breached consumer protection rules.

Premium-rate phone watchdog Icstis has already launched investigations into potential phone-in scams on a number of shows.

Ofcom’s new inquiry will try to establish why there are so many problems in the sector, and will look into possible breaches by everyone involved – including the broadcasters, TV producers and phone line operators.

Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said: “Widespread concern about the use of premium rate telephone lines by broadcasters, and editorial standards in those programmes, has raised serious questions about trust between broadcasters and viewers.

“This inquiry will seek to establish the root cause… and inform key decisions about protecting consumers.”