These reports are case summaries of complaints which appeared to raise issues of substance in relation to the interpretation of the ITC Programme Code. Summary statistics of non-substantive complaints can be found in the full reports which are obtainable from the ITC.
Showing Complaints & Interventions Report for WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE? (COMPETITION LINE)
Channel: ITV (Carlton)
Date & time: August/September: Various times
Complaint from: 19 viewers (not upheld)
Would-be contestants for this new quiz show, which was shown on 10 consecutive nights beginning 4 September, were asked to ring a premium rate competition line and answer a multiple-choice question. Calls cost in the region of £1.
15 viewers complained that, although they had definitely answered the question correctly, the automated message informed them they were wrong, leading some of these viewers to conclude that the competition was a ‘scam’. Based on their viewing of the programme, a further four viewers complained about apparent discrimination in the selection process for contestants, for example, against older people, those from ethnic minorities, and Northern Ireland residents.
It was not possible to determine with any certainty the reasons for the difficulties the 15 viewers had experienced. Possible explanations were problems with domestic telephones or failure to answer the question within the given time limit. The competition line gave details of a helpline available to callers (not at a premium rate) which would connect them with a live operator who would investigate their problem. Carlton advised the ITC that any genuine complaint would be thoroughly investigated by the independent producer responsible for the programmes and the service provider and, where appropriate, financial compensation would be given. Those experiencing difficulties with the competition line amounted to a tiny proportion of callers.
With regard to the complaints of unfairness in the selection process, Carlton explained that, of those viewers who had answered the multiple choice question correctly, a random selection of 100 were rung back and asked a further question. Those who answered correctly and quickly were then invited to compete for a place on the programme which would be recorded 48 hours later.
The sheer volume of calls to this competition line would inevitably lead to many callers being unsuccessful. However, the ITC found no evidence of significant technical failure. It also noted that appropriate mechanisms were in place to deal with complaints. The ITC found no evidence of discrimination in the selection process against any particular sector of society.