TV watchdog Ofcom has ruled that ITV has breached broadcasting rules by holding competitions that more than 40,000 entrants had no chance of winning.
Ofcom (which is the government approved regulatory and competition authority for the broadcasting, telecommunications and postal industries of the UK) said that competitions on programmes like Good Morning Britain, Lorraine, This Morning, Loose Women and Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway were all involved.
The competitions invited viewers to enter via phone, text message, on ITV’s website or by post. However, those entering by post were excluded from the draw.
‘A clear breach of rules’
An Ofcom spokesperson said, “Our investigation found that people who entered these competitions by post were excluded from the draw, with no chance of winning.
“ITV failed to follow proper procedures and this led to a clear breach of our rules, which require all broadcast competitions to be conducted fairly.”
Julian Knight, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said, “It is beyond belief that one of our major broadcasters failed to follow proper procedures over a period of three years with more than 40,000 people duped into believing they had a chance of winning.
“These competitions were associated with some of ITV’s biggest brands, including Good Morning Britain, and ITV was right to refer itself to Ofcom with the full scale of the breach now being made clear.
“People must be able to trust our public service broadcasters - failures on this level risk damaging that trust.”
ITV blamed the issue on “human error” on the part of staff tasked with inputting information on a spreadsheet, and added that it “deeply regretted the mistake.”
The broadcaster said that it had reviewed every competition that it had held since introducing the postal entries in 2014, and that the number of competitions affected was less than one per cent.
ITV said that it has implemented plans to improve postal entry procedures, and plans on donating money to a charity as a mark of “sincere regret.”