Channel Television, who as well as the British Comedy Awards air The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent on the ITV Network responded to the Ofcom ruling today. Read the full statement which CTV confirms they are to bring in the police to investigate the award scam.
Full Channel Television statement to Ofcom’s Findings
Today the communications regulator, Ofcom, published its conclusions and sanctions on Channel Television in relation to its investigation of the British Comedy Awards 2004 and 2005.
We note their conclusions. Channel Television has also today published a summary of the findings of Davenport Lyons’ independent investigation into the BCA 2005 conducted on behalf of Channel Television. All evidence gathered by Davenport Lyons and Channel Television has been previously provided to Ofcom.
It should be noted that it was because of the actions of Channel Television that the BCA 2005 was included in the Deloitte Review of ITV programmes using Premium Rate Services (“PRS”). Channel had become aware that a problem (known as the “as live” issue) had arisen in this programme. The problem arose as a result of the fact that the BCA ceremony had been broadcast live up to 10:30 p.m., and was then interrupted by the ITN News until 11 pm. When transmission resumed after the News, it appeared that the BCA programme was still live when in fact it had concluded at around 11 p.m. This meant that invitations to vote during the last thirty minutes of the transmitted programme were not valid as the event had concluded some half an hour earlier. In the course of the Deloitte investigation, it became clear that the same “as live” issue had occurred in BCA 2004.
Channel Television, as compliance licensee, has always accepted responsibility for the “as live” failure in both programmes. Such failure was not conceived out of fraud or deception, but out of error. It is not suggested that the failure was in any way deliberate. Channel Television has complied more than 3,000 hours of some of the biggest shows in television, many with a central PRS element such as The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, without any Code breaches. Channel Television deeply regrets this uncharacteristic oversight and apologises unreservedly.
The second issue that emerged in the course of the Deloitte investigation is termed the “selection” issue. To assist Deloitte’s investigation, Channel Television obtained the minute-by-minute voting record for the People’s Choice Award. This revealed that at the point at which the Award had been made, the announced winners, Ant & Dec, had not received as many votes as Catherine Tate. Channel Television immediately informed ITV and Deloitte of this discovery. Soon afterwards, ITV removed BCA from the scope of the Deloitte Review and initiated a separate investigation by the law firm, Olswang, under legal privilege. Olswang’s summary findings were published on 8th May 2008.
Olswang stated that a number of key individuals had declined to co-operate with its investigation, while a number had agreed to provide written comments, but not to meet with them. As a result, Olswang stated in their published summary that they had been unable to reach any firm conclusions in relation to a number of the issues they had investigated. Furthermore, some of the individuals that spoke to Olswang subsequently declined to speak to Channel Television and or Ofcom on the basis that they had already provided their accounts to Olswang. However, ITV plc has so far refused to share any statements or information obtained by Olswang beyond their published summary, on the grounds that such material is legally privileged.
Channel Television is profoundly dissatisfied that Ofcom, due to their lack of statutory powers to require information or assistance from third parties, have had to reach conclusions on the “selection” issue without full knowledge of what happened before, during and after BCA 2005. Channel Television, as is acknowledged by Ofcom, had no part in the deception. It is highly unsatisfactory that despite years of separate investigations it has been impossible for the production company, Olswang, Channel Television, or Ofcom to establish with certainty what happened that night.
Channel Television sought and still seeks to get to the truth of what happened. A number of people have declined to participate in a meaningful way with any of the enquiries. There have been widely contrasting versions of events given together with allegations and denials of knowledge and or involvement from those involved with the production company, ITV Network, ITV plc, and telephony services companies Siren and Eckoh. Channel Television has spent a quarter of a million pounds and two and a half years trying to do establish the full facts. It is a matter of public importance to identify who was involved with what appears to have been a criminal conspiracy to defraud. Channel Television, therefore, have today asked Ofcom to take the simple, constructive and necessary step of referring this matter to the police.
Mick Desmond, Chairman of Channel Television, said: “We have always fully accepted responsibility for the “as live” issue and apologise unreservedly. Channel Television is rightly proud of its strong track record in compliance. This is the first time we have been before the Sanctions Committee for a breach although we’ve complied thousands of hours of television including some of the biggest shows on British television with telephone voting elements such as The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent.
“Channel Television asked Davenport Lyons to conduct a full investigation into the issues that arose in the Comedy Awards 2005. We have today published the summary of their findings. It’s worth remembering that in 2005 neither Ofcom, nor the industry as a whole, could reasonably have anticipated or foreseen that viewers’ votes might be substituted or falsified. Channel Television is keen to finalise the investigation into what happened at the Comedy Awards 2005. Ofcom acknowledges that they are unable to go further in their investigation into the viewer fraud due to their limited statutory powers.
“Channel takes the view that it is in the public interest, as well as the interest of Channel Television and its shareholders, that further investigation must take place. That is why we have today asked Ofcom to refer this matter to the police. Only in that way can we, the industry and the public be certain that the deception that took place at Comedy Awards, has been fully and transparently investigated and the culpability of those involved identified. We would welcome such an investigation and Channel, its employees and its advisors will cooperate at every level.
“We invite all others involved in the Comedy Awards to do the same.”
Channel Television continues to be one of three independent ITV companies still operating on the “ITV1” Network outside of ITVplc. The broadcaster and production company launched in 1962 and has been one of the longest running ITV companies to date.
While you no longer see “Channel Television Presentation” or CTV Production on screen it doesn’t mean the company isn’t one of the biggest players in the ITV network schedule. Any ITV broadcaster can commission and pitch programmes for the ITV Network, and all ‘independent productions’ air on the channel via one of the broadcast companies, whether that be ITVplc, STV or UTV.
Up until the mid-1990s this information used to be identified on the end of a programme. Famously when Thames Television lost its franchise to broadcast to London The Bill continued to be a Thames Production, but an added caption on the end after 1993 stated it was a Yorkshire Television Presentation for ITV due to Thames no longer being a broadcaster a surviving ITV franchise had to broadcast the programme on their behalf.