back to article More dodgy phone-ins cost BBC £400,000

The never-ending TV and radio phone-in scandal prompted more embarrassment at the BBC today, as Ofcom hit the corporation with fines totalling £400,000. More than half a dozen shows are included in the latest round of wrist-slapping, including the charity fundraising drives Comic Relief and Children in Need. Broadcasting …


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  1. Wokstation


    "For its massively profitable bent competitions wheeze ITV was hit with a record £5.67m Ofcom fine earlier this year."

    Except, of course, that they made a lot more money out of it than that, resulting in a net profit. That's really the way to tell them not to do it again, isn't it?

    "Behave! Or, we'll take a cut!"

  2. Booty Inspector

    Forget fines, I want a discount.

    So they fine the BBC who just add it to the license fee next year?

    So they're effectively fining US as punishment for losing OUR money in phone-in scams then... Nice.

    How about this OFCOM, give us all a discount on the license fee.

    100% ought to cover it.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    A simple precaution ...

    Use a different number for each chargeable phone-in, and make sure it is pre-proagrammed to disable itself immediately the promotion ends.

    Above all, make doubly sure the number is still disabled at the time any repeat is broadcast.

    Simple, eh?

  4. Sean

    And who really pays?

    Of course! Us!

    Surely some other kind of punishment could have been used.

  5. anonymous sms

    Rip Off UK: Regulation and Corruption

    Why are so many UK companies today being allowed to rip-off the public.

    Water company accountants cooking the books in order to intentionally over charge their customers.

    Four BT Call Centers using auto diallers for four years to generate calls that defrauded the Mod/Tax Payer out of millions of pounds.

    BA and Virgin fixing the fuel surcharges in order to rip off their customers.

    Super Markets fixing the price of dairy products.

    Companies like mblox, Zamano, 2ergo, Dialogue, Opera Telecom...etc, that help third party companies send out unsolicited reverse billed premium rate text messages that debit mobile phone accounts.

    The recent EU 'sweep' that discovered 39 of 43 UK Ringtone web sites were deceiving and swindling children....etc,etc.

    Regulation and 'percentage' regulatory fines after the crime as been committed does not protect the public.

    The Industries and directors within the 'regulated sectors' need proper policing and subject to criminal investigation and prosecution.

  6. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    What is the point in...

    ... fining the BBC when it's funded by the licence payer?

    "BBC executive directors were awarded pay rises of more than £100000 last year,"

    So how about the BBC being required to take that money back off them and put it into programme making?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OFCOM scam of the century

    every time I see this, where does the money go, off feathering OFCOMs nest.

    Fining the BBC, well that's going to help us all out, yeah they won't do it again, it is not as if it is their money.

    We need an UBERCOM for OFCOM, or let's publicly float OFCOM.

    In all fairness they do now have a complaints section, for complaining about OFCOM:

    Still hard to work out where the money goes, but they have an operating budget of 133.7 million pounds. Hmmm, that is quite a substantial chunk of change.

    They got a loan form the government of 52.3 million quite recently as well.

    Come on, does it really cost this much to read letters from disgusted in Tunbridge Wells.

  8. PReDiToR

    Stupidity knows no bounds

    These phone-ins need to be banned.

    They already have to instigate a limit on the number of times a single number can call up to vote on crap like "cum dancing" because a whole load of people in lower income brackets are spending major amounts of money on voting, leading to an even lower standard of living for them.

    This abuse of the peasantry could only be worse if it was performed by the government in the name of taxation.

    Ban this and raise the TV licence fee so that people can choose not to have a frigging TV, let them go out and talk to real people, communicate with each other and learn about the world they (purportedly) live in, rather than the media sanitised version of reality that exists on the idiot box.

    Not only would this raise the level of education about the UK, it would also help quell the rise of chav culture by having more decent people with social standards on the street to set an example of behaviour for these degenerates.

    Ignore me, I believe in Utopia.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Its all a con

    I am sick of these crappy phone in quizzes and competitions they have, what they don't make enough revenue from Advertising (in the case of ITV) and the License fee??

    They charge you even if you cannot get through yet there is literally no way you can ever prove to the public that a competition winner on TV is genuine. Simpler just to ban them and get rid of the annoying quiz games with a blonde bimbo talking at the camera taking so called "calls"

    Mines the one with the telephone con money in the pockets.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Daft system

    What's the point in fining the BBC £400k? They're not a commercial organisation, this won't hit profits, all it will do is come out of TV license funds that will have to increase next year to compensate

    Surely the way to do it with a public corporation when there's a finding of management fault that the management get fined in their place.

  11. George Fontanini

    Yeah right ?

    "Ofcom has recognised that neither the BBC nor any member of staff made any money from these serious editorial lapses"

    Where da money go ?


  12. Anonymous Coward

    RE: And who really pays?

    Nobody is forcing you to watch TV *or* pay the license fee...

  13. Gerrit Tijhof
    Paris Hilton


    Display "THIS IS A RE-RUN" over quarter of the screen: anyone thick enough to think it's live, well, that's Darwin in action...

    Paris, just because, you know... :)

  14. dek

    Better yet...

    ...get rid of the outdated, condescending, self serving, smug bastard of a dinosaur! Then we could all afford satellite/cable just like the top knobs in the BBC.

  15. adnim

    The training failed...

    "The BBC briefly suspended all phone-in competitions, and trained 19,000 staff in how not to swindle viewers and abuse trust."

    If staff need training not to rip off customers, what kind of staff are they employing? I walked out of my last job as a laptop engineer because my employer was over charging customers for labour hours and charging for the replacement of parts that weren't. Looking back now, I should have collected evidence and grassed the bastard up. A conflict of morality and conditioning, where my conditioning won out stopped me. I guess we all dislike what we are or what we have become at some point, at least those with a conscience do.

  16. Alan Ellis
    Thumb Down

    Cost who £400,000?

    It doesn't cost the BBC £400,000, the cost is covered by TV-license payers.

    Wonder if the Beeb will update specifically "What your licence fee provides".

  17. Liam
    Thumb Down

    pah sick of this...

    as said before this is bullshit as its us who end up paying... or to put it another way we will end up losing £400,000 worth of programs.

    here's a way of this type of thing happening. why not make the people responsible (i.e. directors) lose out on their bonuses.

    we all know senior management in big companies do fuck all yet reap massive bonuses. they get great bonuses for everything good people below them do.. why not penalise them when their plebs fuck up? if they can take the good they should take the bad too...

    OR we fine the production company - many shows arent 100% produced by the beeb - why not just refuse to pay them for this type of thing?

    its the same as fining a hospital - great thats an even shittier service i get next year!

    i think the beeb should sack off all none english channels now as a way of saving money. im sorry but why should the english have to subsidise useless welsh, cornish and galic Tv shows.. we already pay for 95% of the bbc yet the scots and welsh get much better value for money...

    i live on the east coast - you know, that bit of the BBC weather map that is shown on screen for about 2. i have a better idea of the upcoming weather for rep of ireland than lincolnshire (biggest county btw - yet NEVER has even a town listen on the UK map :()

  18. CharleyBoy

    re: Forget fines, I want a discount.

    The BBC don't set the license fee. It is a tax set by the treasury and collected on the Government's behalf by the BBC (for a cut) and then allocated back to them as long as they provide public service broadcasting. the Gov. doesn't actually HAVE to give any money to the BBC - though they are commited to doing so for quite some time to come. So, technically, the fee is the tax you pay the Gov. to be allowed to receive a video broadcast - that's TV, realtime internet streamed video - (video message from a phone?). I think the legal term it a Hypothcated Tax IIRC

    Get a discount! Don't make me laugh.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Sean

    'Surely some other kind of punishment could have been used.'

    I'd be happy to see Jonathan Ross flogged through the streets of London.

  20. Joseph Gregory

    Heads will (not) roll

    So, no one will be sacked for this as they did not use premium phone lines. How about the costs of using the normal phone lines or do they think phone calls are free.

    The head of BBC Radio 6 was moved from his job. To where? Not sacked, not downgraded. Job safe, overstuffed final salary pension safe.

    Time the BBC realised they work for us. Time for a clear out of the feather bedded management and also get rid of the licence fee compulsory hidden tax.

  21. Anonymous John

    Look on the bright side.

    The BBC won't be able to afford Carol Vorderman now.

  22. Graeme Sutherland

    It's Fraud

    I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, but I'm pretty certain this would be covered by the laws on fraud. After all, these competitions are asking viewers to part with their money in return for fictitious prizes.

    So why not bring criminal cases against the production companies who run them? I'm fairly certain that if a few managing directors ended up in prison, the problem would be resolved very quickly.

  23. This post has been deleted by its author

  24. Deckard


    "Nobody is forcing you to watch TV *or* pay the license fee..."

    Erm, well not strictly true. I have a 32" LCD TV that I use mainly for watching movies and playing Xbox Live on. However, as it also houses a receiver capable of picking up TV signals, I am required to pay for a TV license whether I watch TV or not (it's still receiving signals). And it's not just the TV that could land me in trouble. From the TVL website:-

    "Using a TV or any other device to receive or record TV programmes (for example, a VCR, set-top box, DVD recorder or PC with a broadcast card) without a valid TV Licence is against the law and could lead to prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000, not to mention the embarrassment and hassle of a court appearance. "

    And yes, while no-one is forcing me at gunpoint to pay for the license, I do consider it easier to simply buy one rather than risk the fine. You may as well say that no-one forces you to pay parking tickets or speeding fines.

    Heck, why not just ignore all legal or social precedents altogether and do what the hell you like - no-one will force you to go to prison, will they?!

  25. adnim


    You are in essence correct. But what is also true is that there are no rules, there are no laws, that is until one gets caught. I have never bought a TV licence. I never will.

    My partner pays for the TV licence, she does so because I refuse to pay for recycled material or programing I don't watch. OK about 10% of TV broadcast is of interest to me, but I don't get an option to pay 10% of the fee.

    I wonder if I could charge the BBC rent for passing their signals through my house?

    Like so much else, choice is an illusion.

  26. Claire Rand


    remember kids, if you or I did this we'd be locked up and the key thrown away. here of course "lessons will be learnt" and thats basically the end of it. as noted ITV was fined less than they made, hmm some punishment.

    personally I'd prefer not to see a fine, to the BBC _or_ ITV, but instead a ruling that these phone ins are to be disallowed in future, or if, as Simon Cowel said on top gear they are just to allow the public to participate, require them to provide a normal geographic (01/02) number for these things.

    remove the cash, remove the incentive. ohhh your naff program doesn't attract enough viewers to get the ad revenue? tough make a better program.

    frankly on principle I don't watch any of these programs that are just a vehicle for a phone in, not found one yet worth watching.

  27. Anonymous Coward


    No, you are wrong.

    Notice the words "receive or record TV programmes". If you are doing neither, then legally speaking you can be TV license free.

    This won't stop the TVL becoming aggressive with their threats but legally there is nothing they can do. You are not even legally required to speak to TVL, nor do you have to allow them access to your property.

    Additionally, you have to be very careful not to hit any of the live feeds under BBC iPlayer or other parts of the BBC as that *does* fall under the present legislation.

    In short, if you keep your mouth shut (totally), then TVL can't get a warrant to search your premises as they have no evidence to support one. Which of course means they can't gather further evidence which is admissible in court.

    I've not paid the TV Tax in over two years, preferring IPTV and purchased media instead (DVDs, Games, etc).

    Obviously, if you are a true 'license dodger' then you deserve a £ 1k fine, but if you don't wish to take part of the Govs 'forced subscription media' then you don't have to.

    Know your right.

  28. g e

    Make the BBC pay as you go

    wonder how the bbc's programming would change if they split into news channel, non-fic channel, drama channel, kids channel, chav channel, etc with a subscription model along the limes of SKY

    they should be made to pay their own way anyway... i only watch dr who and top gear (have sky+ anyway) and both those progs are now off air again... thats 12 quid a month or whatever they rush me currently for fuck all just cos i got a fkn telly. 65% of my total sky+ monthly sub

  29. Anonymous Coward


    Similar to some other comments - our household has a TV capable of receiving TV signals, but it doesn't because we have tuned it out (and not connected an aerial) - we haven't had a TV Licence for 2 years. We had the usual hassle from TVL when we first moved to the house but 1 phone call later and we get no more letters/calls etc.

    We have several friends who have also stopped watching TV and paying for licence - one of them still gets a letter every month but ignores it - as has been stated before you are under NO obligation to talk to TVL or let them onto the premises without a warrant (which they wouldn't get without stgrong evidence, ie can see you watching TV through the window!)

    I would encourage everyone to stop paying the licence AND stop watching TV. Tell the TVL the reason is that most of the programming is **** and/or repeated.

    Use the money saved to buy some cheap DVDs of decent films instead of Bittorrenting them! You avoid the *IAA fines this way too!

    Plus, you can currently legally use iplayer without a licence, if you really HAVE to watch something. In the 7 or so months it's been available streamed, I've come across maybe 2 programmes I would like to watch. Listening to friends who still watch TV, I have come across a further ZERO shows I feel I am missing - this off someone who would watch hours of **** a night in the old days.

  30. Gerry

    BBC Radio is still breaking the rules with its 0845 calls !

    You'd really think that by now the BBC might have got the message about not ripping off the public, but BBC Radio is still doing exactly that.

    Many BBC local stations claim that their 0845 number is charged at "Standard Rates", which is completely untrue because this hasn't been the case for many years.

    Weekend calls to standard 01, 02 & 03 numbers are free on the basic BT tariff but are chargeable for 0845 numbers. Similarly, callers who have free evening calls only to standard numbers are also being conned by the BBC.

    Wake up, Ofcom, hit them with another fine !

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't whinge here, Complain to OFCOM & your MP

    Mail Bomb & your MP asking why OFCOM should be allowed to steal £400k of OUR licence-payers money.

  32. Zmodem

    the law

    forces you to pay the licence for the "peoples" channel or give you a £1000 fine then make you homeless with a jail sentence when ynu dont pay

  33. Bruce Sinton
    Paris Hilton

    No TV license in NZ

    Our kindhearted Government abandoned the license years ago. They did however provide us with lots of adverts.

    These tend to be more interesting than the programs.

    So much so that I watch Sky whenever I do watch the goggle box.

    So it's heads they win, tails you lose. Paris is nice to watch though.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    my email to

    Dear Sir,

    I read with interest today of the most recent (£400,000) fine levied at the BBC after yet more allegations proved to be correct. I must point out however, as it seems to have slipped your attention, that fining the BBC punishes only the viewer, not the company. It is licence fees that provide the cash to pay the fine, and who, I wonder, does that fine benefit?

    Given what has occurred with television phone-ins of late, should not a more practical approach be adopted? I would think that to bring charges of fraud against individual programme directors and have them issued with 6 months prison (no suspended, no time off, no fines) would quickly wake the industry up and result in a swift and effective solution being implemented.

    Obviously, my knowledge of the industry is somewhat limited. But I know a con when I see one.

    yours faithfully,

  35. Anonymous Coward

    re - my email to graham.howell

    ... still no reply.

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