Fraud Police Could Probe ITV After Phone-in Scandals

16 May 2008

LONDON: The UK's biggest commercial broadcaster, ITV, could face an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office over the phone-in scandals which resulted in a £5.7 million($11m; €7.1m) fine from media regulator Ofcom.

The latter's ceo, Ed Richards, told the government's Culture Media and Sport Select Committee that the broadcaster "may well" face police questioning and that the matter was not closed, despite the imposition of the record financial penalty.

He added that ITV's structure, as a series of smaller regional licences, made it difficult for Ofcom to punish a "systemic and widespread problem" at corporate level.

Richards argued that any new legislation should give the regulator tougher powers to punish giant media groups instead of individual channels.

He said: "Life has moved on now. These channels are sometimes consolidating, there are media organisations which have a number of channels and the sanctions system is based per channel but sometimes responsibility lies at the corporate centre.

"This is a very important issue. If Parliament was considering new legislation, without doubt the sanctions system should be linked to where responsibility lies."

Data sourced from Brand Republic (UK); additional content by WARC staff