01 January 1999

THE ITV SHOW Who Wants to be a Millionaire? has extracted over £2m in premium rate call charges from viewers eager to take part in the quiz, whilst line provider BT has milked an additional £1.7m from callers to the programme. Each call yields an average revenue of 77p, split between the ITV network, BT, and the show’s producer Celador Productions. The premium-rate number is flashed on the screen several times during the course of the programme and supported by liberal plugs from presenter Chris Tarrant. According to a Celador mouthpiece: ‘None of this money goes to Celador, ITV or Chris Tarrant.’ [Which weasel claim takes the cake for cynical humbug! Since this income subsidises the programme’s promotional and production costs, as well as the prize money, net profitability rises pound-for-pound in tandem with income from the premium lines -’ thereby feathering the well-lined nests of Celador, ITV and Tarrant.]