Channel Television has asked Ofcom, the television industry regulator, to call in the UK police to investigate criminal fraud in relation to the production of the 2005 British Comedy Awards.
Ofcom has today announced it is fining Channel Television £80,000 in relation to the British Comedy Awards. Channel has a separate compliance business in London which ensures that independent productions for the ITV Network meet strict legal and regulatory standards. One of those programmes is the British Comedy Awards.
An investigation on behalf of Channel Television has revealed that on 14th December 2005, someone involved in the production of the programme switched the People’s Choice Award from Catherine Tate to Ant & Dec. But both investigating lawyers and Ofcom have been unable to find out who was involved because a number of key individuals working for the independent programme producers and ITV have refused to give evidence.
Channel Television says the only way to get that evidence now is to instigate a police investigation.
In 2004 and 2005 the second part of the programme was broadcast “as live” – that is pre-recorded and then played out after the national news. On both occasions viewers were unaware of this and carried on placing votes using premium telephone lines, even though the voting was by that time closed. Channel Television, as compliance operator, accepts it made a mistake in not spotting this error and has apologised unreservedly. It is the first time Channel Television has been sanctioned for a breach of Ofcom regulations despite complying thousands of hours of network programmes. Ofcom fined the company £45,000 for this breach.
The remaining £35,000 of the total fine relates to the switching of the awards at the 2005 ceremony. Channel Television had no involvement in this but wants the truth to be revealed as to who did it, and why.