LONDON: UK premium phone services regulator ICSTIS has slapped a record £250,000 ($505,549; €358.902) fine on Opera Telecom for running fraudulent phone-in competitions on breakfast TV station GMTV.
Described by the regulator as the "the worst case which [we have] come across in terms of the numbers of consumers affected and the amount of money at stake", ICSTIS found that over a period of almost four years at least 18 million callers were charged for entering competitions which they had no chance of winning.
In addition to the fine, the watchdog also ordered Opera to pay a full refund to all viewers who have lodged complaints.
It additionally prohibited the firm from running further phone competitions for twelve months, though the latter measure has been suspended subject to the company addressing failures of management.
GMTV, which is subject to oversight by a different regulator, Ofcom, also awaits judgement and a fine likely to run into several millions of pounds.
Data sourced from MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff