ITV using loophole to avoid costly fine

May 18, 2008 at 8:13 PM

LONDON, May 18 (UPI) -- Britain's ITV network is expected to use a legal loophole in a licensing agreement to avoid a seven-figure fine for programming violations, sources say.

Sources said a Channel Islands licensing technicality would allow the British TV network to avoid the penalty from industry regulators regarding the selection of a viewer's choice award winner during the 2005 British Comedy Awards, The Sunday Times of London reported.

While viewers tabbed comedian Catherine Tate a winner on the televised competition, popular ITV hosts Ant and Dec were given the award instead.

In addition, viewers were told to keep voting for the viewers' choice award despite the fact the network was not airing that broadcast section live.

The incident brought about allegations of vote-fixing by network officials and regulators immediately threatened the media group with a large fine.

But since nearly 40 percent of all ITV shows are vetted in the Channel Islands, regulators must base their fine on Channel Television's revenue and not ITV's. Office of Communications regulators want the loophole changed should ITV manage to avoid the costly fine, the Times said.

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