Quiz Call 'blocks contestants for 40 minutes'

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Channel 4's premium rate TV channel, Quiz Call, has reportedly admitted blocking callers from taking part for up to 40 minutes. The admission comes as Ofcom considers plans to reclassify the growing number of digital quiz channels as teleshopping services, subject to Advertising Standards Authority regulation, and the Gambling Commission mulls treating them as lotteries rather than competitions—a move that would see quiz channels forced to hand over 20% of profits to charities.

"If there are thousands and thousands of [callers] over 10, 20, 30 minutes, then you're not going to take a call. As soon as it dips then you do [take a call]," said the source.

Liberal Democrat culture spokesman Don Foster accused Channel 4 of "straightforward profiteering".

Channel 4 said calls might take a maximum of 40 minutes to be put through, but the length of time was "not based on call volumes but on [the producer's] assessment of how best to engage viewers with the game".

Last week Ofcom director of standards Chris Banatvala told Broadcast magazine the regulator wanted to ensure that participation TV was "correctly defined". Quiz channels are currently considered as editorial by Ofcom. "The idea is that editorial channels should not be skewed for commercial purposes," said Banatvala. "The question is where the boundary lies between genuine editorial and what is basically teleshopping or advertising."

Ofcom is likely to launch a consultation on participation TV early next year.

Lovelace Consulting  |  25.09.2006

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