Talk about Newsnight


TV phone-in quizzes

  • Newsnight
  • 25 Jan 07, 02:17 PM

tvquiz_phone203i.jpgTonight we'll be looking at call in quiz television shows that offer big cash prizes. A parliamentary committee has said some of the shows are "misleading viewers", and some contestants are at risk of being "ripped off" by unfair questions and premium rate fees. Do you think the industry should be better regulated? What are your personal experiences? Do you think people should just take responsibility for their actions.

Join the debate here.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 03:30 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Adam wrote:

The last question in your column "Do you think people should just take responsibility for there actions." is quite strange to me. Shouldn't it say "Do you think people should just take responsibility for their actions?"...?

Anyway, I think the quiz shows in question are a menace and should not be on mainstream channels at night but people should be a bit wiser to these scams!

  • 2.
  • At 03:31 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Ruslan Kladko wrote:

People should take responsibility for there actions.

  • 3.
  • At 03:32 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Adam wrote:

The last question in your column "Do you think people should just take responsibility for there actions." is quite strange to me. Shouldn't it say "Do you think people should just take responsibility for their actions?"...?

Anyway, I think the quiz shows in question are a menace and should not be on mainstream channels at night but people should be a bit wiser to these scams!

  • 4.
  • At 03:33 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • graeme wrote:

people should be responsible for THEIR not THERE actions, tsk come on this is the beeb!

  • 5.
  • At 03:33 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Mick wrote:

The young, lonely and vulnerable seduced by cheap presenters into dialling premium rate phone numbers.

Fill in the following well know phrase

RIPPED _ _ _

  • 6.
  • At 03:34 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • steve quinn wrote:

I think its a complete rid off these phone in shows ,Licence to print money

Do you think people should just take responsibility for there actions?

a better question might be whether you're going to take responsibility for your own?

there/their - i know it's pedantic, but then this is newsnight

  • 8.
  • At 03:35 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Duncan Smith wrote:

'For there actions [sic]'? Come on Newsnight - you can do better than that!

  • 9.
  • At 03:35 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • R Rhodes wrote:

nasty/cheap TVshows....but the is an on/off button on every TV set !

  • 10.
  • At 03:36 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • jack grove wrote:

They are a complete rip-off?
I've never bothered to throw my money away on them, but I'm quite intrigued by the answers to the questions - which are ludricrously obscure and seldom revealed when they say they will.

For instance, the clock runs out and instead of revealing the answers they just put more time on it. Unless you are a TV addict, you will never see what they are.

  • 11.
  • At 03:37 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • John wrote:

I know it sounds harsh, but I have no sympathy for anyone caught by these shows.
The old maxim, 'if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is' applies here.
If you play with the big boys then prepare to get burnt, you really have to be pretty dumb not to see through the scams and if you dont do your homework then it's your own fault...

  • 12.
  • At 03:37 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Mark Griffiths wrote:

It's tempting to say people really should take responsibility for their own actions. But in this case, the quiz masters are clearly ripping people off by misleading viewers into thinking they have a good chance of winning, when they clearly do not.

It's that these companies set out to deceive that we should be up-in-arms about.

There was another news item today that caught my attention, the question was put; 'What does it mean to be British'? One of the things it used to mean was to have some sense of fair play and decency... ah those halcyon days :)

I chanced on one of those shows whilst channel hopping one evening, and I couldn't believe my eyes. I actually think I lost a little bit of my soul in the five minutes I watched, with mounting horror.

Yes, these programmes do rip people off, and they are all scams without exception, but the ludicrous phone charges are displayed on the screen. Why some people still call in, even with that price information clearly stated is beyond me, and I can only say it's their (you may want to correct the "there" in the above article) own responsibility.

The shows should be taken off the air, not because they rip-off stupid people, but because they are an affront to public intelligence.

  • 14.
  • At 03:38 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

I remember spending £70 in an evening when trying to get through to the presenter with what turned out to be a correct answer. I hadn't realised I'd spent so much. It's no more than a lottery and from some reports I've read the payout is only 20%. I'm sure a lot of people spend money they can ill afford to lose. These quizzes should definitely be regulated. I'm never going to enter one again until they are regulated, they appear to be a bit of a con to me.

  • 15.
  • At 03:38 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Sean Girling wrote:

Personally, if you can't take responsibility for your own actions, then no amount of regulation will help you. The rest of the public should be able to enjoy the extravagance of the programs that are funded in part by these shows. Personally, I wouldn't be caught watching them, a bit too low brow for me, but the choice should lie with the individual.

(This is almost as bad as people complaining that their credit card company 'made' them spend till they were in too much debt.)

  • 16.
  • At 03:38 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Alan, UK wrote:

It's simple. The costs of the call are always displayed on the screen, si it's up to the individual to make up their own minds. That said, the answers to certain 'quizzes', are a bit dubious.

  • 17.
  • At 03:41 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Paula Varley wrote:

I wish government committees didn't cost so much. I wish they made more effective use of their time. Most phone in quizzes on TV have the call charges prominently displayed, the questions are often multiple option, ludicrously easy, and it's obvious to anyone with two braincells to rub together that tonight's big winner will always be the TV company.

If these quizzes pose a danger to the public then so does the lottery. And as for super casinos.... well. We'd be better off being locked up for our own good.

  • 18.
  • At 03:42 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • John McWilliams wrote:

People should certainly take responsibility for their own actions but under this ridiculous nanny state most people seem to want to find someone else to blame for anything that goes wrong in their life...

No doubt the BBC journalist who penned the statement that ended in "....responsibility for there actions" will be quick to blame the education system for their poor spelling.

  • 19.
  • At 03:45 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • alison maynard wrote:

I got through to 'Who wants to be a Millionare.
Although I answered the question correctly, I was asked to answer another
question, and given a few seconds to
This was not explained at the time, yet
the presenter clearly said 'someone will
win tonight' this second question was sent 2 days later.So how could you win on the night?!

  • 20.
  • At 03:46 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Mark Perry wrote:

whilst I would usually fall on the side of deregulation and people being responsible for thier own actions and wellbeing, in this instance the quiz shows are acts of deception. They con you into thinking that there is a dearth of callers, and/or that the answer is easy to get right. This being the case, they should be treated in the same way that a con man is treated; they are gaining money from and the confidence of vulnerable people by deception. The consumer should be protected by law, these greed merchants should be stopped. In fact I cant believe they continue to get away with it

  • 21.
  • At 03:48 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Innes Donaldson wrote:

Just like to comment that these so called TV programmes are designed to pray on the less well off in our society, the questions are so simple and the presenters egg the viewers no to call in, I know there is always the "Well you can always turn the TV off arguement" but that's not the point TV shouldn't be use to make addicts out of it's audience.

Then there's the flashing on-screen and the constant ££££££ scrolling across the bottom. It,s all a con as soon as the calls start to peak they put someone on knowing that they carn't make anymore off this game so let's finish it and move on to another one. Something has to be done before thousands of people are fleeced by these unscrupulous companies.

  • 22.
  • At 03:51 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Damon De Ionno wrote:

Of course people should take 'responsibility for their actions', however this also applies to the vendour of such services. I've seen these programmes on a number of occasions and it's only through listening carefully to the presenter's commments that you can tell, indirectly, that getting through is less than a certainty. The current odds of your call being 'successful' should be clearly shown on screen at all times.

  • 23.
  • At 03:52 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • J Cassidy wrote:

Yes let people do what they wish, but let's at least allow people to really know what they are getting involved in!

1) The number of calls arriving at the switchboard should be clearly displayed on the screen.

2) The average cost for the call should be displayed.

Let the individual also exercise free-will and let them subscribe, of their own accord, to the 'QUIZ channels'.

DO NOT allow public channels to transmit these programmes.

We would thereby free up the airspace from Quiz phone-ins and allow space for PUBLIC television.


  • 24.
  • At 03:52 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Alex Pritchard-Jones wrote:

They just take advantage of people who have returned from the pub and are slightly drunk. I myself have fallen for them once or twice because the answers are always misleadingly easy. But you never get through.

  • 25.
  • At 03:52 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • chris wrote:

Of course it should be regulated, if people were capable of being more responsible we wouldnt have all manor of exploitative social problems, these TV companies are cowboys, they even exploit the exploited. But then Im bloody well addicted to watching news paxman night. If you lot didnt have our licence fee dosh you would probably be offering up Paxman to verbally beat up contestants live on Newsnight while Kirsty commentated.

  • 26.
  • At 04:04 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Stephen D wrote:

There should be a reasonable opportunity to win - some of the questions are constructed in such a way that no sensible person is ever going to answer them correctly. (e.g. set questions that 1/50 or 1/100 are likely to get right)

You should also be able to easily access the odds of getting the opportunity to leave a message rather than being charged for an 'unsuccessful' phone call.

If those two conditions are met, then let people assess the level of risk that they are happy with and spend (gamble) their money as they see fit.

  • 27.
  • At 04:07 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • John Salisbury wrote:

Why have tv and telephone companys alike, been allowed to reach this pinnacle of degradation? All premium rates should be justified at the outset.
They should be named and shamed and profits given to charity.
Moreover as a insomniac, most channels after 2 am revert to this charade.

  • 28.
  • At 04:07 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Sarah wrote:

People should take responsibility for their actions.

Dislike these sorts of shows, along with reality tv - therefore am devoid of sympathy for people who choose to watch them, then complain about being ripped off, mislead or offended in some way. Rather than regulate, educate the public about the nature of commercial television.

  • 29.
  • At 04:08 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • SHIRLEY TEECE wrote:


I think they should be more carefully regulated but also I do think it is part of the 'something for nothing' culture.

Big prizes are offered in exchange for supplying the answers to fatuous questions.

Every day on Deal or No Deal viewers are invited to ring in leave their name with the possibility of winning anything from £1000 to £10,000. The calls cost anything from £1 to £1.50. The revenue generated by that more than pays for the prize.

Somebody also has your telephone number to sell on to cold callers etc.

What I am referriing to above is not a quiz, but sometimes the question might be 'What is the capital of France - is it Delhi, Washingrton or Paris' - prize could be a Mini-Cooper but that has cost the broadcaster nothing because of the revenue it generates and the car manudacturer has passed the car on at a peppercorn price.

I know the call prices now have to be shown, so I suppose it is a matter of caveat emptor as it has always been.

Shirley Teece

  • 30.
  • At 04:09 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Abukari Adam wrote:

I have not had any personal experiences. I however want to indicate that the government's decision to look into possible inconsistences in the Tv Phone-in quizzes is in the right direction. Otherwise an abuse will not augur well for the victims and the resposible alike

  • 31.
  • At 04:09 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Robin Jelly wrote:

Usually the Answers are stupidly simple but the charges are outrageously high giving enormous profit with a very low chance of winning.
Even gambling dens work on a small margin.
Horse racing declares the "Odds."
Can the regulator establish the percentage Profit which I guess would be staggering?
Alternatively insist they publish the total generated and the COST price of the prize.

  • 32.
  • At 04:10 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • mugi wrote:

The viewers who decide to call should take full responsibility and not complain because they chose to use the facilities.

  • 33.
  • At 04:11 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Mark grice wrote:

If people feel the need to ring these premium numbers to answer very dumb easy questions,then let them.They are only doing what T.V shows expect them to do,& thats to aim for something for nothing,whats the price of a premium call compared to what they think they might win?
We are basicaly in a money wanton society & T.V networks are cashing in on how they know peoples minds work.
In the immortal words of ABBA "money money money,must be funny,in a rich mans world".

  • 34.
  • At 04:13 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Simon Crossley wrote:

The presenter creates the impression that there are no callers, but there are lots of callers - they are simply rejected and the show collects the call charge. This is clearly deceitful, and very poor telly, so we'd be much better off without them.

  • 35.
  • At 04:15 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Kieron wrote:

I noticed that when ITN covered this story at lunchtime the three example services shown were .... not ITV Play! In fact - no mention of that service was made at all by name.

Good to see impartial reporting on all sides!


My personal experience is not with a phone-in quiz, but a phone-in show, but no matter which one it is, the answer is an unequivocal 'Yes!' to 'better' (whatever that may mean) 'regulation' (ditto).

I believe with all these things, both contestants (who often commit a large amount of time and often money, for free, to contribute the 'content') and those who phone in on premium rate lines (to take part or 'vote') must be able to expect a fair delivery (and explanation of what that entails, or not) of the contest/show's stated structure.

That's nothing to do with ordinary 'people taking responsibility' for THEIR actions, but a rip-off industry, which is making millions for those unscrupulous, unethical and greedy enough to take advantage of slack or toothless monitoring and policing, to have responsibility for theirs heaped upon them.

Can you imagine if the advertising industry - or the lottery, for that matter - was allowed to promise one thing and then deliver another, or nothing at all, with rules changing and/or shrouded in secrecy, plus little or no official audit of fairness or numbers?

Doesn't matter if it's a quiz or a contest, if these guys are allowed access to your 0900 billing there is only ever going to be one winner, and they'll make sure it is them, their ratings or their incomes, whichever comes highest, and regardless of skill or result.

Other than that, I'm sure it's all good, honest entertainment.

  • 38.
  • At 04:19 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Sean wrote:

I think that Newsnight should investigate the difference between "their" and "there" ;)

  • 39.
  • At 04:23 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

I agree that people should be responsible for their own actions, however these programs usually have very low odds of you being selected.
Perhaps these odds should be made public, in the same way that the odds are known for lottery games.
This would allow for an informed decision on behalf of the caller.

Is it Ghostbusters 2?

  • 41.
  • At 04:27 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Roger Francis wrote:

I agree with the principle that people should be responsible for their actions, but also feel that human nature allows us to find some things difficult to resist, and many find it difficult to stop them becoming an obsession.

Also, society as a whole pays for the compulsive minority.

I think these shows should certainly be regulated. I would like to see them disappear, but not sure how to justify it, other than I do not believe they would be missed, and there would in return be more variety on TV.

  • 42.
  • At 04:29 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Andrew Lydon wrote:

They are a disgraceful con, bordering on outright fraud.

I called, spending 50p or whatever it was, only to be immediately told by a recorded voice that I had "been unsuccessful" and that I should call again. There was no point at which I was even given a chance to answer the question. Once bitten,....

Word will get around soon enough and the fraudsters will be forced to move on when the revenue dries up.

  • 43.
  • At 04:31 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Barrie wrote:

I have in the past month made £500 using free web entries. ITV Play and Quizmania are pretty straight.

Having said that, they do occasionally stray into using a form of words which suggests that they are waiting for someone to call, when in fact hundreds of people are calling. They also state that the time at which a call is taken is a random event, and yet they have 'speed rounds' or 'turbo rounds' during which more calls are taken. They also have countdown clocks and promise a call will be taken before it reaches zero. So they obviously have control over when a call is taken, and to suggest otherwise is dishonest.

I don't like the idea of banning things, but I think viewers should be reminded every 10 minutes that these quizzes are run for profit, that those profits come from call revenue, and it should be declared what proportion of call revenue is distributed as prize money. Let's see if they can survive that.

  • 44.
  • At 04:33 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Gerard Flannery wrote:

To tell the truth people should be taking responsabillity for their actions.However these rip offs target the vulnerable and the desperate for money.I think they should be outlawed,some of them do seem very plausable.Also the young people can be tricked into phoning them,the messages they send out always need to be repeated at least once sometimes three times,that is liberty taking.Regulate them and these ludicrous fake lottery scams as well.Greed gets some men and women into all sorts of jams.

  • 45.
  • At 04:35 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Nick Gardner wrote:

Getting vulnerable people to gamble expensively is legitimate if unscrupulous. Getting them to bet on unfairly rigged games is cnning people and should be investigated as a criminal offence.

An example:

The only time I've ever been tempted was to fill in a grid on the top 10 films of Robert de Niro. Seemed a fair game.

In the while that I watched it became apparent that this was an unconventional list, as people called in suggesting titles like Raging Bull and Cape Fear - Goodfellas too, I think - and they weren't in this top 10. So, I started to try and puzzle out the criteria that had been used to compile this list. One answer was a bit obscure, and I don't think would be on most people's lists. Can't even recall what it was.

After a further while, it was made clear that this list had been compiled by polling "the studio crew", and hence was idiosyncratic at best. I never did see what the "top" film was.

Seems to me that enticing people to call in to answer obvious questions even though the odds are so high that many other people will also get the answer is an open practice, albeit a bit amoral.

Luring people into making over priced calls to answer polls or fill in lists with spurious, random or unreasonable answers is a confidence trick and should be treated as such.

  • 46.
  • At 04:35 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Kevin Symonds wrote:

I would say it is all a rip off and probably does encourage a form of gambling to those more weakwilled or of lesser intelligence. The main example being that people are paying to phone with little chance of actually being picked anyway.

Another problem with it is that it shouldn't be on the main terrestrial channels. If people want to watch this sort of thing let them find it on Satellite and Cable I have no problem with that. But it's depriving viewers of actual proper programming in the timeslots used.

  • 47.
  • At 04:36 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • M Neslund wrote:

Yes cost are displayed but a lot of people, run up big bills on there telephone who cant afford it.
This is another form of gambling, that should be more controled by government.

  • 48.
  • At 04:38 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

I see you changed the mistake from the e-mail. Tsk, tsk: "there" instead of "their". We knew that the editor was undeserving of his position, but the typing pool too? Boo.

  • 49.
  • At 04:39 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Roy Faulkner wrote:

This is yet another example of the authorities trying to nursemaid people .The questions are usually pitched at an insultingly simple level.this is obviously to generate a massive money raising response. If people fall for it tough and you could say, if the questions were more difficult, then it would be unfair as only highly intelligent people would qualify. By the way, the Newsnight blogg spelt "their" wrong. Cheers

It's simple. These shows are there because they make money. They are an ugly, wealthy parasite on the face of British TV.

Some of the questions set are just nonsensical (they are equivalent to guess the number, anywhere from 0 to 10,000!) such questions should already be regulated out of existence.

They are of zero entertainment value. If you don't believe this, ask yourself how many hours a week you would expect to see if they made NO money, less than 5% of their currently generous time allotment I'd guess.

They should be heavily regulated until almost dead.

  • 51.
  • At 04:48 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Mateen A. Zia wrote:

In my opinion TV phone-in quizzes is not only a way to mislead the masses but the sevice itself is an expensive one.

As well as there are so many chances of making FAKE CALLS by the media team themselves, if not what is the check over them?

More over, chances of "ripped off" the contestants do also exist there.

It should be discontiued as early as possible.


Mateen A. Zia

  • 52.
  • At 04:57 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Simon napier wrote:

What the program makers should be made to do is have as a tag line permenantly at the bottom of the screen (in greater than 6 point.)This needs to show the average number of times you need to call to get through and average call length. Not to the switchboard but to the presenter who takes the answer,this will enable people to work out the odds and costs of getting through to give the inane answer.

Now whether this would be work for some sleep deprived brain at 3am in the morning who knows?

  • 53.
  • At 04:59 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • V.W.Dinneen wrote:

People should take responsibility for their own actions. Their actions should be to refuse to consider ringing premium numbers to quizzes or anything else. These stupid quizzes will disappear if people would only stop ringing up.

  • 54.
  • At 05:08 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Emjay See wrote:

Why can't the organisers state in clear language their options and what it is likely to cost the 'punter' every, say 5 minutes to remimd and Re-remind watchers of their probabl losses and winnings. Let the buyer beware is only good if YOU understand it and manifestly a lot of folk don't. I support the Government, now that's a change!

  • 55.
  • At 05:11 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • andrew wrote:

Apart from the points above, there is also the question of reality shows where the compere always says something like 'At the moment the vote is really too close to call and your vote may really make all the difference..'. Often this is a complete misrepresentation and could be interpreted as fraud. This could simply be overcome by revealing percentages of votes cast. And on the subject, the fashion for saying 'the result is..' and leaving a minute of more before finishing the sentance, is very irritating.

Not only are they charging people to join in, whilst using some vary spurious answers as winners in order to avoid people winning too easily, but they are also failing to provide any decent programming for those who watch TV late at night - surely providing 20/24 hour 'normal' programming should be part of their license remit.

  • 57.
  • At 05:14 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Rory Meakin wrote:

Sorry - I have little sympathy for people who let themselves believe 'it could be them' and then felt angry when it actually wasn't. The price of the call is clearly displayed. If you're too wrapped up in the thought of getting that £5000 or however much it is that you lost a small fortune calling up then it's your own silly fault.

People who enjoy such programmes and quizes should not be stopped from doing (or 'regulated') so in order to protect the stupid from their own stupidity. That said, if they are not already subject to ASA regulations they probably should be.

  • 58.
  • At 05:19 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Graham Jones wrote:

If I were to buy a lottery or raffle ticket it would be with the expectation that it would at the very least be entered into a draw. One such "contest" today stated that not all calls @ £1 a time would be succesful without stating any odds or percentages. Is this not a clear cut case of blatant deception.

  • 59.
  • At 05:48 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Robin McKay wrote:

People who 'phone these quiz shows are by definition irresponsible idiots and need protected whether that be by greater and stricter regulation or being banned from accessing a telly and 'phone for one month each time they even think they can "win" something.

Exploiting the poor has a new edge in that a media-based Company can now access millions of genuinely ignorant and stupid people whose paucity of common sense belies just how common sense actually is.

There used to be a thing
called 'entertainment'
It cheered you up
or made you want to think
But now its 'grab the cash'
the brain's left dormant
It's no surprise
the nation takes to drink

The Brother House not so
much education
A puerile way
to watch the ‘missing link’
has nicely filled the gap
- the soul's vocation -
Yes, thanks a lot
I need another drink

If only thoughtful word -
or peroration
refilled the space
of constant kitchen sink
We'd see the standard rise
to raise the nation
Til that time comes
I'll have another drink

And here’s the TV quiz
A ‘cheap’ arrangement
to drag the greed
to cash - the 'missing clink'
Re-set the standard low
in rearrangement
No wonder that
the nation takes to drink.

  • 61.
  • At 05:52 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Matt wrote:

Here's a quick video showing how easy the questions are:

  • 62.
  • At 05:53 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • philip wrote:

I believe the quest to make it drives people to take advantage of this offers. However where the credibility of those with the offers is questionable, then, reposibility on the advertisers is to be audited in light of public safety.

  • 63.
  • At 05:59 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • David. wrote:

These "entertainment shows" should be banned. A friend's 15 year old daughter tried 32 times one evening and was unsuccessful in being "selected". To his horror he was charged 75 pence for each unsuccessful call. Needless to say his daughter stumped up from her pocket money and learned a salutory lesson at the same time"

  • 64.
  • At 06:11 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Jym Furlong wrote:

I'm an insomniac living in a non-digital area and I don't have or want satellite. So, I have seen these programmes.

What I have noticed is that these "programmes" represent another aspect of the dumbing down in terms of television, especially by the commercial channels. But, they also represent an very ugly dimension of the social shift that has made gambling not only acceptable but also desirable.

The viewers targeted by these shows are clearly being riped off and so are the British people in general. If this is the best that some channels can show at that time of night maybe they should consider relinquishing their licenses.

That or they are the graveyard of drama school failures and so-called reality TV stars who would never have a career in any other field.

My opinion maybe vitriolic, but these "game shows" seem to me to be part of a growing epidemic of cultural collapse in the UK.

  • 65.
  • At 06:18 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Doreen Richards wrote:

Personally I dont call these programmes, they are merely fundraisers for the T.V. Company. and going down the same road getting viewers to vote for say, celebrity ballroom dancers, and ice skaters are all money scams, the only one I would ever support is Children in Need

  • 66.
  • At 06:24 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Doreen Richards wrote:

These shows are not "programmes" merely money raisers for the T.V. company and going down the same route, producers of Phone Voting for such shows as Celebrity Ballroom Dancing and Ice Skating are little better, the only programme I would ever support is Children in Need

  • 67.
  • At 06:25 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Annie Mc Cartney wrote:

I see most people have beat me to it over "there" actions, can't get much past the Newsnight viewers!. Quiz shows a total con, watched one once in utter fascination for about ten minutes once. It was appallingly obvious that many of the poor eejits who called were really thinking they were in with a chance. The shows should be banned, or regulated at least, but then they do fit in with this governments attitude to gambling.

  • 68.
  • At 06:26 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Doreen Richards wrote:

These shows are not "programmes" merely money raisers for the T.V. company and going down the same route, producers of Phone Voting for such shows as Celebrity Ballroom Dancing and Ice Skating are little better, the only programme I would ever support is Children in Need

  • 69.
  • At 06:29 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Paul Evans wrote:

These shows are just bad TV and for that reason alone shouldn't be on air. I can't blame anyone risking 60p a minute for a chance to "win" £500+. However it is when the same people come back time and time again you would have to question their judgement.

  • 70.
  • At 06:51 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Ian Olive, Moutardon, France wrote:

TV companies who do this sort of thing must be getting seriously desperate...

  • 71.
  • At 07:19 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • abdallah kintu wrote:

iam very much interested in this game i reary suport british peoplein general

  • 72.
  • At 08:02 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • nigel perry wrote:

I have no sympathy for people who complain that they have spent seven thousand pounds on these obvious scams: you can not legislate for imbeciles otherwise nobody has any fun. But yes, regulation is required to stop deception such as concealed costs and ridiculous answers.

  • 73.
  • At 08:26 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • John Schofield wrote:

Imagine all the people who are exploited and patronized in this and in so many other ways by a sadly dumbed down source of 'entertainment'. It's on a par with other highly questionable prizegiving 'quiz shows' which have been exposed in the past.

Yes ! A full-scale investigation of this scam - for scam it is - should be instigated at once !

  • 74.
  • At 09:07 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Graham Jones wrote:

The contributor of 65,66 & 68 repeats the same mistaken comparison with shows like Stricly Come Dancing where proceeds from phone calls are actually donated I believe to Children in Need and why have you allowed virtually the same message to be repeated 3 times? Are these blogs actually being monitored for content or simply checked by a computer programme for offensive language?

  • 75.
  • At 09:14 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • John Wilson wrote:

I suspected they are scams but the only way to see how they work is to try it once. They are a bigger con than I ever imagined. You call in first with a possible answer but it's a chance if you get any further and you don't know how they decide you have a chance. Then even if you get a chance it's not going to be the right answer. They could decide to make the last possibility the answer. Many viewers must turn on when the show has been running a while since they often quote answers that have been offered many times. Shame on channel owners for stooping this low.

It's now very clear how balmy governments are elected when these are the very people who put their cross in the box.

  • 76.
  • At 09:42 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Brian J Dickenson wrote:

As the man said.
'There is one born every minute'.

I have no sympathy for people who are naive or greedy enough to fall for these scams.

  • 77.
  • At 09:49 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • D. Thomas wrote:

As a matter of principle, I'm against the idea of a Nanny State. HOWEVER, I do believe that these so called "games" or "competitions" ought to carry a compulsory health warning with them, warning the public of the odds in a million of winning. It's about giving people choice. Informed Choice!

  • 78.
  • At 11:09 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Mrs Susan C Carson wrote:

I do think most of those programmes rip off their contestants but then, how else can they raise the prize money if not by charging in this way?

  • 79.
  • At 11:16 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

What about almost all TV programmes having call in competitions. Avoiding being held to account under the lottery rules by asking a question that everyone knows the answer to, deliberately designed to cause millions of viewers to phone in to the competition, £1+ an entry... The viewer has no idea the odds, because they do not know how many people have called in.

If this were honest the questions would be harder.

Is a question like
Who is the prime minister of Great Britain, A) Basil Brush, B) Tony Blair or C) Thomas the Tank Engine

Is this a its a lottery.

The BBC are at it, every channel, almost every programme is at it. It takes advantage of the lower income people.

Stop this now....

  • 80.
  • At 11:18 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • paul reynolds wrote:

Quizz games,

The phone in tv quizz is not a true gamble as say with a raffle you buy a ticket and your ticket goes into the draw.
With the phone in you could make 100#
calls at say £1.00 and no be entered into any draw this needs regulating. All calls should be a guaranteed entry for a specific sum.

  • 81.
  • At 11:44 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • richard wrote:

regarding the discussion on premium rate call tv game shows, Eckoh plc provide all of the telephony for ITV's 'the mint'...from previously working in this industry I would have to agree with ex Big Game TV emlpoyee's comments on the methods used to increase call volumes and therefore profits by being 'selective' on the time that a caller is connected to the programme. Eckoh are a plc and their profits are listed in the public demain (ECK), their turnover doubled with the launch of the mint, reporting earnings of £100k+ per is strange that nobody working within this call Tv business actually calls these TV programmes, I wonder why!...the CEO of Eckoh is a Mr Nik Philpot, Eckoh are one of the largest service providers to ITV for these services and run their business from Hemel Hempstead and they, with ITV, are the only financial winners here!

  • 82.
  • At 11:45 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • Alex Kerr wrote:

If premium rate calls of this type were an opt in option, would we be having this debate?

Why does a communication service (the phone) come with the ability to pay a third party? Surely such a credit service should be applied for and be part of a credit agreement.

  • 83.
  • At 11:46 PM on 25 Jan 2007,
  • C. Martin wrote:

I will comment on this as I feel things as usual are being somewhat confused.
Firstly, there has been no show where I have found the premium line to be "Per Minute" and as all presenters make sure everyine knows it is "Per Call". They even tell people not to go mad calling them as they realise the bill can be huge.
It is done wit a responsible and controlled manner.
Now it may be percieved by some and your panel as "Boring", I must say it is a "Real UK Community" that has been created by some of these game shows and like myself being living alone taken interest in the way this community has been growing. Why watch "Boring" soaps that aren't real, that television companies spend millions on, some of which are paid for by the enforced licence payer.
No, I think those on Newsnight have not paid attention to what really goes on and indeed as many reports in the past only tell part of the story.
You don't have to call them, you don't have to watch them. In the same way as I although have to pay, to all the programmes I really would not like to have on my television. So each to their own and let people make their choice.
This is a "Legilation Era" and it seemms almost everythig has someone saying a "New Law" has to be made to protect the people. How about the people being responsible for their own actions for a change?

Take the Newsnight tv phone in-style quiz -

  • 85.
  • At 01:13 AM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • PD wrote:

People should be required to take responsibility but only when they have learnt to spell 'their actions'.

  • 86.
  • At 09:28 AM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Mayank wrote:

Ya definately call in quizz shows must be more regulated. Sometimes the participation in the quiz show is based upon calling and giving the correct answer or sms-ing the correct option. The innocent people spend thousand of bucks doing this futile activity but actually there is nothing such crieteria upon which the participant is chosen in the background. Most of the time these game shows are deluding the citizens and participants are chosen within the own groups of organizers or their known ones. So there is call upon strict regulation on how these game shows are conducted and citizens should be more alert and avoid being deluded in such a way.

  • 87.
  • At 09:56 AM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Rob Slack wrote:

Include the appalling shopping sites alongside the quiz shows. Compare the presenters; they are the sames scumbag types. Ideologically I believe adults should be free to make their own decisions. The quizes and shopping sites make me question that. The economic waste generated by these shows could fund hospital beds, or education. Force the shysters running the shows to MAKE, rather than TAKE, a living. Ban the shows; some people need protecting from themselves (I know a TV shopping addict).

Like most Newsnight viewers, I've never watched these programmes. Judging by last night's report, however, it seems like the sort of scam that would have had Ernie Bilko, Del Boy & Arthur Daley purring with pleasure. I don't wish to seem harsh but there is the option of watching other channels at that time (there is also, of course, the OFF button). If there are thousands of gullible saps out there who phone the premium rate number, they need to learn the hard way.

  • 89.
  • At 12:26 PM on 26 Jan 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

We should put useless TV channels where they belong. I have a freeview box which has the ability to delete channels, thus avoiding the accidental selection or tuning in to a channel which is an obvious rip-off.
Ask at your dealer's and put the fear of death into crap TV producers.

Let he (or she... must be PC) who casts the first stone...

As one who catches all other's typos but never his own, I'd say a wee bit of slack could be offered as it a) was not exactly a world-changing cock-up and b) about the first I've seen (and passed over, chuckling to myself) on these pages in a fair long time.

Meanwhile, back on the topic....

As one of those it seems deemed by some to have got what he deserved, I do look forward to their posts when they next engage with well, pretty much anything in life really, where what they have been told is not true, or even is as can be reasonably presumed by virtue of no clarifications being obvious, when in good faith they make a financial transaction. If so I look forward to running ads for beachfront property development in certain parts of Florida soon.

It is called fraud. And it doesn't matter if it's your accountant running off with your life savings or a TV production company taking 50p knowing full well you have a 'BMW gearbox on a beach's' chance of getting it back.

And I remain ensure how the collectors of the money (the telecoms companies) on behalf of the con-artists in question, are also allowed free rein to take their skim, especially when I presume both, to repeat, require a licence from those we pay to defend our interests against such sharp practices.

Unless they are in on the deal, too inept or frightened of lobbyists to do anything about it.

  • 91.
  • At 11:00 PM on 27 Jan 2007,
  • Kathy wrote:

I'm sick of the whole 'instant riches' gimmick. If it's not scratchcards falling out of your newspapers and magazines, they are handed out with your change at the supermarket. The tv quiz is just another media for the same old con. Someone is getting rich, unfortunately it isn't me.

  • 92.
  • At 06:59 AM on 01 Feb 2007,
  • praty wrote:

i think the tv-quiz shows should be charity oriented. means the shows should not be directly linked with other profit orientd organisations. when they are linked with the profit oriented organisations then that organisation sucks money indirectly from the common people who may have a good quiz knowledge but they fall in the trap of the profit-organisation to take in part of the show. and the organisation gains a huge money( which is not the main point) but the common people loose/waste a huge money, which is the main point.
so in conclusion
1. the common people shuld be smart enough while responding to the common advirtisment of the profitable organisaiton plus the show.
2. the govt. should make some norms to get rid of the traps made by the profitable organisation.

plz free to respond to my comment at

  • 93.
  • At 08:38 PM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • Mary, Manchester wrote:

"The Mint" was always very good at giving out the number to phone/text or enter via the FREE ENTRY on line

However what they failed to disclose was that you could only use the "FREE ONLINE" entry if you own a land line!
Which i descoverd one night after id waisted £15 credit phoneing in then i tryed to enter online only to be told i couldnt enter online if i didnt own a land line?????

i emailed the mint explaining what a big con i thought it was and i recived a reply well in total i have copys of 3 emails i sent and three replys i got back from the mint,just worming there way out things,the text entry is also a rip off and i got email to prove it,winner was picked at random but ppl were still allowed to keep entering afterwards there reasoning for this was winner is chosen at random!!!!!!!!!!


  • 94.
  • At 11:53 AM on 17 Apr 2007,
  • Jonny wrote:

I'm probably considered to be one of the generation that have had to put up with the mass advertisement and being bombarded with ridiculously easy quiz shows being under 20, but I know enough to know there's no point in entering at all since it probably takes 20,000 people put on hold at £1.50 a minute for one person to win £1000.
Also i wish they would remove these shows from terrestrial channels and put them somewhere that I wont flick to when trying to find something decent to watch. When we've paid for the license we are entitled to quality of our programmes are we not?

  • 95.
  • At 09:52 AM on 24 Apr 2007,
  • charlie wrote:

The motivation for calling a premium phone line is based on two things:

-greed and (or)

High charges for the calls have two benefits:

- They teach the person who called to be more responsible with their money.

- They raise income through taxes that can be spent on public services.

How can someone be 'unaware' that a phone call costing £1.50 a minute (clearly shown in bold print at the bottom of the screen), is a rip off?

I pay £27 a week to watch a second tier football team and I get virtually no pleasure out of it. I certainly would'nt complain that dark forces are trying to rip me off because it is my own choice.

  • 96.
  • At 01:00 AM on 13 May 2007,
  • Michelle Parkinson wrote:

Anyone stupid enough to call into these programmes deserves to be charged at premium rates. Steve Allen from LBC highlighted this rip- off on his radio show months and months ago. I cannot call 09 numbers from my phone, not that I would anyway! These programmes are aimed specifically at the profoundly thick people of the UK who think they can win lots of money. Not so. Anyone with half a brain would see that all the quizzes are fixed - what woman carries a raw plug in her handbag I ask you!!!!! I've got some strange things in mine, but definitely not one of those. If you don't understand this comment - on ITV Play this was the top answer of things women carry in their handbag! I rest my case.....

This post is closed to new comments.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites