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Phone-in row hits radio stations

hamba

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Phone-in row hits radio stations

Premium rate phone lines regulator Icstis is to hold a further meeting on the row engulfing the sector, this time with radio broadcasters, after two stations were pulled into the controversy.

Icstis said it was looking into allegations surrounding Virgin Radio, owned by SMG, and Chrysalis-owned LBC in London over separate complaints.

Virgin has admitted listeners were encouraged to call into a pre-recorded request show, while Icstis said it was looking into an allegation that callers to an LBC phone-in weren't told how much the calls cost.

A Virgin Radio listener told the Mail on Sunday yesterday that he had called Suggs' Saturday night request show from his car but when he got home he switched on the TV to find the Madness singer appearing live on Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway.

Virgin admitted the show was sometimes pre-recorded but said all requests were still used at some point.

An Icstis spokeswoman said it had also been made aware of another allegation surrounding LBC over "price and clarity" which will be examined.

The spokeswoman said that even though radio companies attended last week's meeting of broadcasters and programme makers over the phone lines controversy, another seminar would be held specifically for the sector.

"We will do a follow-up meeting with radio in a similar style [to last week's meeting]," she said.

An Icstis spokesman said this afternoon that no meeting had yet been scheduled.

"We will be writing again to all those in the radio sector and if we deem a meeting is necessary we will certainly host one," he said

Icstis chairman Sir Alistair Graham will today write to broadcasters to confirm their commitment to carrying out "as an absolute priority" a review of their current and forthcoming participation TV programming to ensure there is "no risk of consumer harm".

The letter from Icstis will identify the "risks" it expects to be covered in each review, with the results to be reported to it within two weeks.

The first of Icstis' own investigations - into Channel 4's Richard and Judy - is expected to report by the first week of May, with BBC1's Saturday Kitchen and ITV1's The X Factor a week later.









Leigh Holmwood
Monday March 12, 2007
MediaGuardian.co.uk
© Guardian News and Media Limited 2007