New guidelines for  London quiz shows

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LONDON -- Quiz TV programmers will face new license conditions and unannounced spot-checks from media regulator Ofcom under new guidelines intended to protect consumers, the watchdog said Tuesday.

The moves come after a year in which Ofcom imposed fines totaling 3.5 million euros ($6.8 million) on such leading broadcasters as the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 for misleading quiz TV competition entrants.

"Viewers must be confident that they will be treated fairly and consistently when interacting with television programs," Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said. "Ofcom will not hesitate to take firm action with broadcasters who step out of line and mislead people. These measures will ensure that broadcasters are directly accountable and give greater protection for all."

The mandatory conditions will become part of Ofcom's compliance procedures and require all broadcasters and companies wanting to set up premium phone competitions to register with Ofcom.

Ofcom has spent much of the last 12 months investigating the TV scandals that have beset broadcasters here.

Broadcasters have four weeks to discuss the changes with Ofcom, which hopes to have the new rules in place by the end of June.

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