ITV competition entrants had no chance of being selected to win say Ofcom
Ofcom have concluded that ITV have breached broadcasting rules in the way that they handled post entries for their TV led competition.
Following an investigation that began in August, Ofcom found that “people who had 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.”
ITV had reported to Ofcom that they had failed to include over 41,252 postal entries into prize draws for seven shows between 2016 and 2019 including This Morning, Loose Women, Good Morning Britain and Ant and Dec’s Saturday Takeaway. Although the majority of viewers tend to enter via a £2 text message, phone call or online, to avoid issues under the Gambling Act (for what could be considered a pay to enter game of chance) there is usually an ‘alternate free entry route’ often via the post ( the cost of a stamp does not count as a ‘purchase’). However, due to ‘human error’ ITV found that these entries were not always added to the database of entrants and thus had no chance of winning.
Julian Knight, the chair of the Commons Digital, Media and Sport Committee said of the scandal: “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”.
Although ITV have paid millions in fines to Ofcom in the past for other issues with competitions, on this occasion Ofcom decided not to take any further action. ITV have said they will be putting into place plans to improve their postal entry procedures and will be donating a sum of money to charity as a ‘mark of its sincere regret’.
The PromoVeritas Point of View
Firstly, it is yet another indication that too little attention is paid to the back end of a promotion – an area where we excel. Secondly, over 40,000 people lost their chance of winning a prize – this is a breach of not only Ofcom rules, but also the Gambling Act. We will have to see if it is referred to the Police.
Finally, even the mighty Ofcom get their terminology confused. They were calling the activities a ‘competition’ when all one has to do is enter and winners are drawn randomly. So it is in fact a prize draw. Legally, competitions are games of skill or judgement, and involve effort – eg answering a question or completing a tiebreaker or similar.