Monday, October 13, 2008

Channel U's flirty fishing

The latest Ofcom complaints bulletin includes a ticking off for the digital music channels U and Fizz, for fiddling their on-screen text features.

Channel U text moderators were caught posting up messages inviting responses - like:

where r the essex gals? send me a pic xx ”

while Fizz ran "fun quizzes" (no prizes were offered, unless you count the cash that Fizz was making out of it) that even the regulator could see through:
a moderator asked “Which football star is married to Alex Curran?” Over a period of approximately 16 minutes, during which further invitations to enter the “fun quiz” were made to viewers, multiple wrong answers, including David Beckham and Ashley Cole, were broadcast before the moderator confirmed the correct answer. Numerous correct answers were then broadcast.

As Fizz is a pop music channel aimed at young people who were likely to have known the answer to the question, Ofcom sought the broadcaster’s comments on why it had taken so long to reveal the correct answer.

The broadcaster admitted that "on some occasions" correct answers might have been "held back" - or, in other words, the marks were encouraged to carry on entering even although the quiz had been finished; while at U, "unauthorised" instructions from the "Interactive Sales Manager" had led to the texts being made up. He's got the sack, some new rules are in place; it won't happen again.

What's surprising, though, is the company's apparent belief that it did nothing wrong:
The broadcaster pointed out that its viewers are part of a regular community and are aware of the costs involved in contacting the channel. It noted that Ofcom had received no complaints from viewers and stated that, since the withdrawal of the quizzes, many viewers had sent in messages asking for them to return.

Given that the channel has a history of creating its own text messages pretending to come from viewers, I wouldn't have reached for a slew of messages of support from the audience to try and bolster my case. And the suggestion that since none of the people happily sending texts to what they thought was a sexy Essex Girl or whatever never complained isn't actually a justification, is it? If you're being conned, and don't know you're being conned, then how would you know you're supposed to complain? All that means is that you're good at deception, not that your audience would be happy to know they're being deceived.

1 comment:

StuartW said...

I always wonder about these things - like when someone repeatedly pops up on Flaunt or whatever going "who do you lot fink is da best football team?"

Seems like a weird place to go to start a conversation about footie...

Er, not that I watch Flaunt, you understand.

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