ITV Play In Breach
In Ofcom's latest Broadcast Bulletin (pdf), ITV Play is found to be in breach for the first time for one of their games.
In one of their "tower games" callers were invited to identify "things you might find in a woman's handbag." The sample answer was "mobile phone." Correct answers (well answers that received prizes) from callers included "contact lenses", "driving licence" and "plane tickets." I suppose you might find plane tickets in your bag once or twice a year at the airport, but nonetheless someone did guess it.
But it was the unguessed answers that were revealed at the end of the competition that drew the complaints. Several people complained that "raw/rawl plugs" was perhaps a tad unfair as an answer, while a further person also suggested that perhaps "balaclava" was unreasonable. What kind of women carry those things around in their handbags? DIY enthusiasts? Terrorists?
Ofcom has rightly upheld these complainants, although I note that in its defence, ITV Play said that other possible answers that were guessable included "rubber bands" (perhaps), "directions" (a bit metaphysical that), and "false teeth" (does anyone put false teeth in their bag as opposed to, say, their mouth?).
I think that the problem with these games (aside from the fact that they're effectively lotteries based around guessing games that should either be banned or classed as lotteries publishing their probabilities accordingly) is that viewers take them to be broadly along the lines of Blankety Blank or Family Fortunes with popular answers being searched for when in fact they're randomly chosen from dictionaries and encyclopedias.
The quicker this kind of TV gaming is outlawed, the better. It's not really what our terrestrial broadcasters should be doing. Mind you, I think that viewers should be regularly reminded of the odds of winning Lotto on the BBC National Lottery shows too, rather than spurious "prize fund" stats.
In days to come, we'll no doubt look back at these clips in awe and wonder, the same way we look at old ads proclaiming the benefits of cigarettes or alcohol. This September's Gambling Prevalence Study is going to make fascinating reading.
Incidentally, Nick Cohen in yesterday's Observer is worth a read.