U.k. Net May Be Hit With Largest Broadcasting Fine Ever
The British morning-time network, GMTV, is facing the largest fine every meted out in the history of broadcasting for its part in the widespread scandal over call-in TV contests. U.K. news reports said that OFCOM, the TV watchdog, is about to impose a fine of $5.6 million on GMTV for rigging the contests so that millions of people who paid premium rates for phone calls had no chance of winning since the actual winners had already been selected before the lines had shut down. GMTV is owned by the British commercial network ITV and the Walt Disney Co. in a 75/25 split. Another British broadcaster, Channel 5, has already been fined $600,000 and the BBC, $100,000 for running similar phony phone contests. On Wednesday, ITV said that it will yank its remaining quiz shows involved in the phone-in scandal by the end of the year "as negative publicity following compliance problems across the sector has seen call volumes drop to uneconomic levels." Commented ITV Chairman Michael Grade: The viewers have voted with their dialing fingers and they are not dialing in."