The BBC has been fined a total of £400,000 for breaching the broadcast watchdog’s Broadcasting Code relating to unfair conduct of viewer and listener competitions
This fine is the highest financial penalty yet to be imposed by Ofcom against the BBC and relates to programmes broadcast both on TV and radio from 2005-2006.
Ofcom found that the BBC fakes winners and misled its audience with the biggest single fine of £115,000 awarded to the Liz Kershaw Show, BBC 6 Music for conduct between 25 July 2005 and 6 January 2007.
Meanwhile, Radio One’s Jo Whiley Show, was fined £75,000 for breaches that took place between 20 April and 12 May 2006
Other radio shows to come underfire included two more on BBC 6 Music. The Russell Brand Show, from 9 April 2006 and the Clare McDonnell Show from September 2006, were both fined £17,500.
On television, TMi, broadcast on BBC2 and CBBC on 16 September 2006, received a £50,000 fine, while BBC1’s Comic Relief and Sports Relief, broadcast on 16 March 2007 and 15 July 2006 respectively were both fined £45,000
Children in Need, broadcast on BBC1 (Scotland) on 18 November 2005, received a £35,000 fine.
Ofcom considered the breaches of the Code to be “very serious”.
“In each of these cases the BBC deceived its audience by faking winners of competitions and deliberately conducting competitions unfairly,” it added in its report.
The investigations found that in some cases, the production team had taken pre-mediated decisions to broadcast competitions and encourage listeners to enter in the full knowledge that the audience stood no chance of winning.
In other cases, programmes faced with technical problems, made up the names of winners.
Overall, Ofcom found that the BBC failed to have adequate management oversight of its compliance and training procedures to ensure that the audience was not misled.
Although viewers and listeners paid the cost of their calls to take part in these competitions the BBC did not receive any money from the entries.
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