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New Ofcom Rules Would Cause Much Call-TV Income To Dry Up

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Well, it was fun for the broadcasters while it lasted. Ofcom has proposed new rules that all but kill interactive TV shows that exist solely to make money. Amongst the new regs…

— Premium-rate phone calling “must not be given undue prominence” within shows.
— Shows “must consist primarily of content other than the promotion of the premium-rate service”.
— “The primary purpose of the programme must be editorial”.

That means talent shows like Pop Idol and I’d Do Anything are safe – but late-night quizzes catering to inebriated students and hard-up insomniacs appear on shaky ground. ITV (LSE: ITV) canned its ITV Play channel that consisted mainly of such games last year in the wake of the UK’s participation TV scandal.

Participation TV was popularised a couple of years ago by European broadcasters looking to make up for falling TV ad revenue in the interactive age, but fell on sticky times last year following a wave of fraudulent productions that prompted a regulatory crackdown (ITV has since moved its ITV Play brand online and later rebranded it merely ITV Games). Ofcom: “Quiz, psychic and adult chat TV as currently broadcast will need to change significantly in order to comply“. A six-week consultation has begun.