Reality TV

‘Britain’s Got Talent’ Misled Viewers Over Dog Act, Says Ofcom Ruling

Ofcom has made its ruling, and the UK media regulator has decided that Britain’s Got Talent is guilty of misleading viewers over the winning dog act.

“After a detailed investigation, we found ITV broke broadcasting rules by misleading viewers during the series finale,” said Ofcom, in its official ruling just released.

In June, Jules O’Dwyer and her dog Matisse were announced as the winners of Season 9, following an impressive performance in the finals in which Matisse appeared to have performed a tightrope walk. The performance earned a standing ovation from the judges, including Simon Cowell, and O’Dwyer and Matisse would go on to earn 22.6% of the public vote on finale night, securing the win over magician Jamie Raven by just 2 percentage points.

'Britain's Got Talent' Misled Viewers Over Dog Act, Says Ofcom Ruling

However, it later came out that a different dog, Chase, performed the tightrope walk. This prompted over 1,000 viewer complaints to Ofcom, a communications regulator in the UK overseeing TV, radio, and other media. While producers were quick to apologize, it appears the viewers weren’t the only ones deceived, as Simon Cowell was reportedly unaware that there was a dog swap. Considering Simon is the show’s creator, it speaks volumes of just how far ITV went to keep everyone out of the loop.

“In this case, the fact – as evidenced by numerous complainants to Ofcom – many viewers were not aware that a central part of a dog agility act was performed by a second animal, indicates the licensee did not take sufficient steps to ensure that the broadcast was not materially misleading,” Ofcom noted.

Ultimately, Ofcom’s ruling determined that while ITV didn’t actually intend to mislead viewers, the network is guilty nonetheless.

“There was never any intention to mislead viewers,” ITV said in a statement. “The majority of votes cast for Jules’ act were received through the free voting app. However, we accept that some viewers who voted for the winning act by a paid voting route may wish to seek a refund or that the cost of their vote be donated in full to the Royal Variety charity.”

For news on how to obtain the refund, head on over to ITV’s official website.

All in all, I’m not convinced ITV didn’t realize they were misleading people. The excuse that the majority of the votes cast for Jules and Matisse were through the free app doesn’t really hold water, when you consider that only two percentage points separated the winner from the runner-up. Thus, if the paid votes accounted for two percent or more, we’d have had a different winner, regardless of how many votes Jules and Matisse received from the free app. But I suppose it’s all splitting hairs, since I don’t know that Ofcom would have reversed the result of the competition anyway.

What do you think of the ruling? Did ITV deceive viewers? Did Jules and Matisse deserve the win? Sound off in the comments!

And for more on Britain’s Got Talent, check out the winning moment for Jules and Matisse!

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