ICSTIS report slams TV phone-in rip-offs

Complaints about TV premium rate phone-in competitions and quizzes have risen worryingly over the last year, according to ICSTIS

Premium rate TV phone-in competition and quiz line rip-offs will not be tolerated, regulator ICSTIS has warned. Its annual report revealed a "worrying upsurge" in complaints related to TV shows.

Complaints about TV phone-in competitions and quiz shows have risen dramatically over the last year and now account for over a quarter of ICSTIS complaints. The most significant complaints related to Big Brother , according to the ICSTIS report.

The annual report, covering the year ended March 2007, has been published days after ICSTIS imposed a record fine of £150,000 on telephony service provider Eckoh Uk. It was fined for its part in the Richard and Judy 'You Say We Pay' phone competition scandal.

Consumer rights for those entering TV phone-in competitions were not respected by the industry, said Sir Alistair Graham, chairman of premium rate service regulator ICSTIS.

"There has been a worrying upsurge in complaints about TV phone-ins and competitions over the last year. Never again must viewers and consumers be treated like this. It will not be tolerated," Sir Alistair warned. "The public should be able to use premium rate services with absolute confidence and should never feel cheated."

Despite the growing problem with TV show phone-ins, the ICSTIS report outlined a year in which total premium rate service complaints had fallen by 43 per cent. From October ICSTIS will be changing its name to PhonePayPlus .