Popular ITV reality singing contest The X Factor yesterday faced criticism from broadcast regulator Ofcom, who claimed that they over-promoted a 5-star hotel that the show has a contestant residency deal with.
The Corinthia Hotel in London (England) was signed up to the show as the base for all singers during the live show rounds, but it appears as though Ofcom have stated their belief that the prominence it took on reached levels of ‘undue promotion’, and referenced ‘in glowing terms’ by all contestants.
The media regulators watched back through all pre-recorded sequences of season 9’s live shows, and noted that no less than 8 of the 13 participating acts were part of these references, and that while the segments on their own were not a problem, collectively they portrayed an image akin to advertising.
ITV’s subsidary Channel Television (responsible for overseeing The X Factor) confirmed that they had not been given payment or ‘valuable consideration’ to place the hotel in the series, but it was found that production company Thames, who arranged the residency agreement with the Corinthia (but with no written guarantee of inclusion on the show), “indicated that it had paid the hotel a reduced rate to provide rooms and services”.
ITV responded with the argument that the live finals of The X Factor have always provided pre-recorded footage of the real lives of each finalist every week (even if that does include ‘spontaneous’ group outings and a single brand of handheld devices), and that while before producers had rented a communal house, they chose in 2012 to book a London hotel (with the aim of getting the singers closer to controversial headlines). The channel admitted that there were several shots of the building’s exterior and hotel name, but that they were “editorially justified and not unduly prominent.”
Ofcom’s summary (which contains several third-person style references to themselves) of the incident, with which the ITV show appears set to get off with a warning: “Ofcom considered that, in isolation, each reference to the Corinthia Hotel did not raise issues of undue prominence, in the context of establishing where the contestants would be living during the final stages of the competition, and conveying their excitement at their new surroundings. However, Ofcom considered the overall number of references to be excessive for the purpose of establishing this. We therefore judged that there was insufficient editorial justification for the repeated references to the hotel during the programme. Ofcom concluded that the cumulative effect of these references resulted in the programme as a whole giving undue prominence to the hotel.”
Meanwhile, the show also came under fire for an incident not directly relating to their show, as Channel 5 reality show Celebrity Big Brother yesterday admitted that contestant Rylan Clark had been excused from their own rules, as they twice allowed him to be escorted off-site to rehearse for the upcoming X Factor Tour which he is part of as a former contestant.
The announcement has attracted controversy from viewers, who have throughout the show’s history been led to believe that no-one is allowed to leave the house unless they are not coming back or in the case of an emergency. The channel tried to defend their actions in a statement, claiming that they did not allow Rylan to hear about any news from outside the house: “It was agreed before Rylan entered the Big Brother house that he would be allowed to rehearse for his tour twice on-site with a choreographer. This was agreed on the strict understanding that he was not allowed to discuss events in the Big Brother house with anyone during such rehearsal periods. Rylan was escorted by a Big Brother producer at all times during rehearsal to ensure full compliance.”
Regardless of their reasons, the one reality show that prides itself on providing raw drama and unmanipulated reactions seems to have broken their own laws, although in the world of reality TV that is hardly a rarity…