Okay, here's a bit of catch-up. In the UK, for shows like Big Brother, when people call in to vote they are actually charged serious money for each vote. Sure, 50p or 90 p or whatever might not seem like a lot but when you've got millions of people voting, it really adds up. Why ANYONE would pay to vote or try to get on the air and win a prize is beyond me. I'd never vote for Idol if they tried to charge me. But the practice is extremely widespread in the UK. Morning talk shows akin to The View or Regis & Kelly charge people who want to call in and win a prize. Kiddie shows charge people who call in to win a toy. Quiz shows, talk shows, and on and on and on -- they ALL charge a fee when people call in and it's a huge and growing business. The major networks make HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS from all those phone fees and it's a very important part of their business.
Now the scandal: it seems like virtually every show on the air has been scamming viewers. For the last several weeks, one show after another has been revealed or fessed up to "irregularities" -- people were urged to call in to get on the air when a viewer was already chosen and standing by, people were overcharged in billing by the company handling voting for "Pop Idol," people were even urged to call in to a show that had been pre-taped! Now we find out that even kiddie shows weren't immune. The classic Blue Peter had technical problems and no callers could get through to win a toy. But instead of just telling viewers that, they coached a little girl visiting the set to get on the phone and lie about where she was calling from and gave her the answer to the question they had posed. Lovely.
I noticed "American Idol" last night is charging money to people who text them to enter their silly quiz. But at least they say you can also go online and play for free.