TV phone quizzes to face tougher rules

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Television phone-in quizzes are to be subject to tough new rules imposed by an industry watchdog, according to reports.

The apparent move by premium-rate phone call regulator Icstis comes in the wake of a number of TV quiz scandals, prompted by claims that viewers have been ripped off by entering many of the competitions.

New rules requiring TV producers to warn potential entrants about the cost of taking part in such contests have reportedly been formulated after a report to MPs warned that some viewers were spending thousands of pounds trying to get through to answer quiz questions.

Parliamentarians were also told of claims that some programme producers had been responsible for questionable practices in attempting to ensure that some callers were prevented from being put through.

It is understood that under the new rules TV bosses will be required to warn viewers if they spend more than £10 trying to get through to programme quizzes and to flash up on screen details of the number of other people calling to try and take part.

Phone-in TV quiz shows will also be required to provide details about the cost of calls to viewers every ten minutes, it is reported.

Last month Icstis said that it would investigate claims made about GMTV after the BBC's Panorama programme reported that many viewers of the ITV1 breakfast show had entered its quiz, unaware that they had no chance of winning as a result of actions taken by the company responsible for administering the competition.

Other channels have previously been hit by similar claims, with Channel 4's Richard and Judy show and BBC One's Blue Peter also embroiled in the controversy surrounding premium rate phone-in quizzes.

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