Police examining British TV competition rorts. Britain’s Serious Fraud Office has confirmed it is examining a phone-in fraud uncovered at the British commercial TV franchise GMTV. The fraud, which involved mobile phone voting, has already drawn a substantial fine from the British media regulator, Ofcom, and is only one of a number of incidents uncovered over the last year. London media reports say the SFO probe has been prompted by complaints by the public and not a reference from Ofcom. The regulator fined GMTV (75% owned by ITV and 25% Disney), a record £2 million for running a series of phone-in contests in which a huge number of callers were not considered for the prize because the winners had been chosen up to an hour before the contest ended. London reports claim that up to 25 million calls may have been ignored. At the same time, Scotland Yard has said that it may investigate ITV over a series of reported rorts involving premium-rate telephone services. Police say they may consider if criminal charges should be brought after a report by Deloitte found that ITV viewers had been deceived about premium rate phone in competitions. Deloitte’s report found that a “serious cultural failure” had cost viewers £7.8 million, or around $A17 million. Ofcom is still investigating the ITV breaches. The whole question of phone-based voting has become the most serious issue to confront British broadcasting for years. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
Seven again won easily because of Dancing With The Stars which topped the most watched list with 1.756 million for two hours from 7.30pm. Home and Away next with 1.389 million, then Seven News with 1.379 million, All Saints with 1.354 million and Today Tonight with 1.352 million. A Current Affair averaged 1.232 million, followed by Nine News (1.204 million), the first Simpsons repeat at 7.30pm (1.195 million), NCIS (1.193 million) and the second Simpsons ep (1.177 million). The 7pm ABC News averaged 1.174 million, ahead of Temptation with 1.112 million (more than the revamped Millionaire on Monday). The Sopranos, 426,000 at 10.45pm.

The Losers: CSI Miami at 8.30pm for Nine (804,000) and Surprise, Surprise, Gotcha, which ended last night with 866,000. Both programs were beaten by repeats on Ten. That tells you how much viewers have turned against Nine. Crime Investigations Australia only had 824,000 at 9.30pm.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market but Melbourne, Today Tonight won everywhere bar Brisbane. In Sydney more people watched the 7pm ABC News (354,000), than Seven News (353,000) or Nine (314,000). Ten News averaged 855,000; the Late News/Sports Tonight, 412,000. Nightline, 249,000 after The Sopranos. The 7.30 Report had 838,000 with Red Kerry vs. The Smirk. Lateline, 229,000; Lateline Business, 117,000. SBS News, 149,000 at 6.30pm; 121,000 at 9.30pm; Insight, 203,000. 7am Sunrise 435,000; 7 am Today 288,000; 6am Sunrise 278,000.

The Stats: Seven won with 34.7% (36.8% a week ago) from Nine with 23.9% (23.3%), Ten with 22.8% (21.4%, the ABC with 14.7% (unchanged) and SBS with 3.9% (5.8%). Seven won all five metro markets and now leads the week, 32.1% to 24.3% for Nine. In regional areas a similar sized win with Prime/7Qld with 35.4%, WIN/NBN for Nine with 24.5%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 22.6%, the ABC with 13.3% and SBS with 4.2%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Tuesday, Dancing With The Stars, Seven wins and no one else really tries, except perhaps SBS. Tonight Nine starts Farmer Wants A Wife in the rural romance slot vacated by McLeod’s Daughters at 7.30pm. Will it be a shinier version of SBS’s Desperately Seeking Shelia? Hopefully, being local, viewers will give it a chance. How many people will watch The Chaser after last week’s controversy. They have taken up the Prime Minister’s challenge to right a song about living people… could be fun. The ABC waves goodbye to Summer Heights High tonight. Ten has 5th Grader, plus House, and Life off the satellite.  Nine also has Cold Case and Without A Trace straight from the US, but this isn’t boosting viewing levels (look at the way Bionic Woman and Heroes have sunk on Thursday nights for Seven).

Source: OzTAM, TV Network reports

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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