BBC £50,000 fine over phone-in con

BBC £50,000 fine over phone-in con

Media watchdog Ofcom has imposed an unprecedented £50,000 fine on the BBC over the Blue Peter phone-in scandal in which a young studio guest posed as a fake competition winner.

It is the first time Ofcom has imposed a financial penalty against the BBC.

The BBC was guilty of "serious breaches" of the broadcasting code, Ofcom ruled. Ofcom said the BBC was guilty of "deception" and of making a child "complicit" in that deception.

The broadcaster was found to have breached two rules: the first stating that "competitions should be conducted fairly" and the second stating that "due care must be taken over the physical and emotional welfare and the dignity of people under 18 who take part or are otherwise involved in programmes".

Nearly 40,000 children called the BBC1 show's premium rate phone line on November 27 last year in a competition to win a toy. Viewers were asked to identify EastEnders character Bradley Branning from a picture of his feet and an accompanying clue.

But when a technical glitch meant no winning entrant could be selected, a member of the production team asked a girl visiting the studio with her parent to pose as a winning caller. She was given the correct answer and put on air. The girl said she was "calling from London" - in fact, she was in the same studio as the presenters.

Another member of the public visiting the studio on the same day observed what had taken place and blew the whistle in March this year.

In its ruling, Ofcom's sanctions committee concluded: "The committee was conscious that the imposition of a financial penalty on the BBC was unprecedented.

"However, in all the circumstances, and weighing all these matters carefully, the committee considered that these were serious breaches of the code by a public service broadcaster resulting, as they did, in the deception of the audience, including child participants who paid to enter the competition.

"The breaches involved a pre-planned decision to fake a winner in the interests of ensuring the smooth running of a programme, and in doing so made a child complicit in events leading to the deception. There were also a series of serious and avoidable management and compliance failures before, during and after the breaches occurred."
... suppose they'll up the licence fee :(
I fully understand why they were fined. They did wrong and were, rightly, punished for it. However... That money doesn't belong to the BBC! It's our money, that we're forced to give them through our TV licenses. So what's the crack?
I've just written to Ofcom:
Dear Sir,

I am writing with regard to the £50,000 fine imposed on the BBC over the Blue Peter phone-in scandal in which a young studio guest posed as a fake competition winner.

I am a BBC licence payer (even though in this area we cannot neither receive BBC television nor Freeview programmes unless subscribing to a third party provider).

Please provide answers to the following questions:

Who is personally responsible for payment of the fine?
To whom is the fine paid?
What happens to the funds (fine) paid?

I look forward to an early reply.

Yours faithfully,
However, I won't hold my breath waiting for a sensible reply.
Did the BBC provide the phone line mechanisms, or was it a 3rd party?

And will said 3rd party telecom company be hit with legal action from the BBC?

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