Ofcom Slaps Record £400K Fine on BBC for Gulling Public

31 July 2008

LONDON: UK communications regulator Ofcom has slapped a record £400,000 ($792.4k; €509.3k) fine on the once-irreproachable BBC for airing rigged TV and radio competitions that involved  "premeditated decisions" for contests that viewers and listeners had no chance of winning.

In imposing the largest fine yet levied on the publicly funded broadcaster, Ofcom said: "In each of these cases the BBC deceived its audience by faking winners of competitions and deliberately conducting competitions unfairly.

"The investigations found that in some cases, the production team had taken premeditated decisions to broadcast competitions and encourage listeners to enter in the full knowledge that the audience stood no chance of winning."

Deserved or not, the fine is a prime example of bureaucratic fatuity, in which one publicly-funded body pays a large amount of the public's money to another publicly-funded body. 

Just three weeks ago WARC News reported the hefty bonuses awarded to the BBC's top executives – apparently for little more than reporting for work each morning while presiding over such farragoes. 

The BBC was truly contrite, pointing out that several relatively junior heads had rolled as a result of the scandal. Meantime, those topping the heap issued the following statement.

"We have taken these issues extremely seriously from the outset, apologising to our audiences and putting in place an unprecedented action plan to tackle the issues raised."

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff