RTL hangs up on call-in programs


RTL Netherlands has pulled the plug on its call-TV programs after months of investigations into programs that invite viewers to call in for a fee.

The action follows a scandal that rocked the European TV industry this year when producers at leading U.K. broadcasters, including the BBC, Channel 4, Five and ITV, were found to have deceived callers. Producers admitted to faking winners of call-in competitions and accepting call-in fees for competitions that already were closed. The BBC later canceled its call-in shows.

Last month, Dutch authorities raided the offices of SBS Broadcasting, RTL Group and producers Endemol and 2waytraffic on suspicion that the companies' call-in programs might violate Dutch law (HR 9/14).

Tuesday's measure by RTL to shut down all of its call-in TV shows becomes effective Nov. 1 and applies to all four TV channels that RTL operates in the Netherlands.

A spokeswoman said that RTL Netherlands wants to avoid any suspicion of illegal activities and awaits new governmental guidelines for call-TV.

Meanwhile in the U.K., media regulator Ofcom and premium phone regulator Icstis are continuing investigation into call-in shows going back as far as 2002.