BBC fined over radio phone-ins

Watchdog fines for prerecorded 'live' phone-in contests

LONDON -- Another day, another fine for phone-in competitions at the BBC, with media watchdog Ofcom handing down a 95,000 pound ($147,000) penalty Thursday for running "live" phone-in competitions during prerecorded radio programs.

Most of the fine --  70,000 pounds ($108,000) -- has been leveled on the BBC by Ofcom for running phone-in competitions in eight prerecorded Radio 2 shows hosted by Dermot O'Leary.

Broadcaster O'Leary is a familiar face on television as well as a voice on the radio having just completed a stint as the host of ITV1's "The X Factor."

Ofcom also fined the BBC 25,000 pounds ($38,700) for running phone-in competitions in five prerecorded shows hosted by Tony Blackburn on BBC London 94.9FM.

In both instances listeners were enticed to enter competitions that offered no chance of entering or winning.

The BBC has been ordered to broadcast a statement of Ofcom's findings on Radio 2 and BBC London 94.9FM.

But Ofcom said in a statement that it had been noted that these competitions "were not run for profit."

Ofcom also recognizes the extensive steps the BBC has taken to ensure future compliance in this area.

The BBC said in a statement that it accepted the findings.

"We welcome Ofcom's recognition of the extensive action taken to address these issues and that neither the BBC nor any member of staff made any money from these lapses," the BBC said.

Ofcom's total fines on the BBC for TV and radio deception scandals over the last 18 months alone have flown past the 500,000 pound mark.

The BBC was fined 50,000 pounds in July 2007 over a faked Blue Peter competition and a further 400,000 pounds in July for numerous phone-in deceptions on shows including Comic Relief.

The fine comes just hours after the organization appointed economist Colette Bowe as its new chair.
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