CHCH-DT re Game Time

ENGLISH-LANGUAGE PANEL
CBSC Decision 16/17-1690 & -2179
2018 CBSC 4
February 22, 2018
A. Noël (Chair), D. Braun, R. Hutson, K. Leavins, A. LeBlanc, T. Rajan

THE FACTS

Game Time is a contest program in which viewers are invited to telephone the program to solve quizzes, puzzles and problems in order to win cash prizes.  The program is broadcast live.  A host displays a puzzle on screen and then encourages viewers to call in if they know the answer.  CHCH-DT broadcast the program beginning at 12:30 am.  Episodes were preceded and concluded with the following message in video and audio format:

The following is a paid program not produced by CHCH TV.  For more information on this program, visit www.CallTV.com/GameTimeCanada.

At the bottom of the screen, there is a box that displays the amount of the cash prize and a brief explanation of the nature of the puzzle.  The prize amount increases the longer it takes a caller to get through to the studio.  Also displayed are the telephone numbers to call, in white letters on a red background.  Below that is a smaller box that reads “$1/entry” and beside that is a scrolling message that provides further details about the program with black letters on a white background:

Please note viewers will be selected at random by computer from all landline, mobile and online entries for the chance to come live on the air to solve the puzzle.  The chance of selection depends on the number of entries.  Not everyone will be selected.  All calls are charged if randomly selected or not.  Calling does not guarantee selection.  A maximum of 99 entries per show and/or 400 entries per month are suggested but please set your own limit.  Some carriers and telephone providers may set lower call entry limits.  Customer service 1-800-[???-????] or email gametimecanada@calltv.com.  Enter now.  No purchase necessary.  Entrants must be over 18 and legal residents of Canada.  There are three ways to enter.  From most landline or mobile phones call 1-416-628-9989.  From other landline phones call 1-900-456-9989.  Each entry costs $1.  Telephone charges will appear on your next phone bill or will be deducted from your mobile pre-paid credit.  Alternative entry at calltv.com/gametimecanada.  Full terms and conditions, specific game rules, prior show answers and winners are also shown on our website.  Winner payments are processed within 4 weeks of winners confirming their details to PlayTV Canada.  The host can offer to the participant who gives a correct solution the opportunity to participate in a bonus game.  A table composed of 18 blocks is therefore presented to the [??] and he has to select 4 blocks.  If he finds the 4 hidden jokers, then he is awarded with the bonus prize.

The CBSC received a complaint about the March 12, 2017 episode of the program, more particularly about a puzzle for which the question was “How many triangles are there in the picture?”  There was an image of one big triangle with additional lines inside it, such that there were multiple smaller triangles inside.  The complainant alleged that the answer 24 shown at the end of the puzzle was incorrect.

The host took multiple calls, but none of the callers had the right answer.  At the end of the game, the apparent solution was shown on screen.  Each triangle was highlighted, in turn, with a pink border and the total count appeared beside it.  Many lines appeared in the solution that were clearly not in the original puzzle.  The solution even ended with a pink outline showing a line that did not exist in the original puzzle.

The broadcaster responded to the complainant on April 7, explaining that it had no ownership or control over the program and providing contact information for the program’s production company.  It did, however, indicate that it had contacted the producers and learned that, due to a hardware glitch, an incorrect video had been shown to demonstrate the solution to the triangle puzzle, but that 24 was indeed the correct answer.  The broadcaster informed the complainant that a correction would be aired on an upcoming episode.

That correction had indeed been aired at the beginning of the April 2 episode.  The host presented the correct solution image, clearly showing the lines for the 24 triangles.  As well, the host made the following statement:

Hello.  Good evening, Canada.  Welcome to Game Time.  You’re watching us live here in the studio for the next hour and a half of games.  All you have to do is answer the puzzle.  As we put them on screen, get on the phone and tell me the solution.  Now, remember.  Before we start, we have a very small announcement.  Three weeks ago, March the 12th, we played a count-the-triangles game and the solution was 24.  [triangle image appears beside her]  As you can see there.  Now when we played the video solution, there was a graphical bug.  Apologies.  We do get bugs sometimes.  In the system, there was a very small graphical bug.  The solution of 24 triangles was correct.  And here is the correct solution video without any bugs.  We cleaned them all up.  We got rid of them.  Here we go.  This is the solution, guys.  We just want to make sure that you see everything that we see.  This is it nice and clearly then.  This is the correct solution.  Apologies about that.  The answer was correct.  So there we go.  It was twenty-four.  That was the answer.  We had a little bug in the system, but there you go.  You can see it there.  That was the correct solution, guys, so let’s move on.

The complainant nevertheless filed a CBSC Ruling Request, asserting that, in general, the program does not make it entirely clear how callers are randomly selected to offer their answers to the host:  “The process through which these calls are selected is of concern and lacks clarity”.

The CBSC received another complaint on June 7 from a different viewer who also characterized the program in general as a “scam”.  He expressed concerns that vulnerable viewers such as the elderly or persons with dementia would be fooled into participating in this program because the scrolling information is too small to be read easily and not entirely clear about how fees are charged per call.

The complainant named the episode of June 4, 2017 to serve as an example of his concerns.  He claimed that the host did not provide any verbal explanations of the charges incurred when a viewer calls the program and that any visual warning “was either not there or the font was too small.”  One of the puzzles was also very easy to solve, but no callers were getting through, which seemed very suspicious to him.

CHCH-DT responded to this complainant on July 6, noting that it has been assured that the program is compliant with all Canadian laws and that “the various ways to call in and the rules of the game are continuously on screen and inclusive of a crawl running at the bottom of the screen”.

At the beginning of the June 4 episode, the host provided the rules verbally:

Remember the rules!  There are three ways to play.  Mobile and landline callers may dial 1-416-628-9989.  Some landline callers may need to dial 1-900-456-9989.  Both numbers just underneath me there.  Remember that calls cost one dollar if randomly selected to come through to me or not.  Alternative entry can be found on our website where you can see full terms, conditions and answers to previous games.  We would select viewers to come on randomly from all entries and, as always, you have to be over 18.  So those are the rules.

The rules were repeated in similar terms one hour and fifteen minutes into the program.

During the episode, one of the games was a word-search where viewers had to find the name of three different car brands.  The host explained the game verbally:

Now, what we need from you is find three car brands in the table there.  Go find three car brands in the table.  As you can see there’s a table here.  A green table.  And you can see all these letters here.  Can you see all those letters?  I hope you can.  Now, let me tell you.  We are asking you to only look in directions left to right, left to right and top to bottom.  So there’s only two directions we are asking you to look in.  These arrows there are there to help you.  There’s only two directions to look in.  So you are looking from the top to the bottom or left to right.  […] Find three car brands in the table.

Although she repeated that viewers needed to find three car brands and to only look left to right or top to bottom, she never clearly stated that the correct answer was only the three brands that the producers had chosen, not just any three brands visible in the grid.  Many callers provided answers that did in fact appear in the grid, but were deemed incorrect.

However, during this game, the following information was added to the on-screen scroll:

You have to find the exact solution.  The solution can be formed by one word or more words.  The solution we are looking for can be well-known and current.  Solutions may also be less known, having a historical reference, or something you can find mainly or exclusively in another country, and in this case solutions can be found at oxforddictionaries.com or https://en.wikipedia.org and historic automobiles at http://histomobile.com.  All answers, both common and uncommon will have had at least 50,000 search hits on Google.ca.

Throughout this game, the host made comments such as

The answer is in front of you, in the grid.  It’s there.  There’s no tricks, guys.  It’s just, you’ve got to look, look for the words.  Find those three car brands.  There’s two directions only:  top to bottom, left to right.  Make sure you’re spelling everything correctly.  Make sure it’s a brand.  Make sure you’ve got three.  Make sure you’re going in the right two directions.  There is only one correct solution to this and we will show you the answer at the end.

and

we are playing for three car brands.  That’s what we need.  We’ve had two wrong answers tonight.  Who’s going to give me that correct one?  Who’s going to give me the correct one?  Remember, there are three there for sure.  There are three for sure.  Do not give up.  Do not give up.  […]  Remember that we are only looking in two directions.  So there’s probably lots of car brands you can make, uh, but we are only asking you to look in these two directions.  There’s top to bottom and left to right.  And that’s it.

At the end of the game, the solution was presented as GAZ, ACN and Holden.

The complainant filed his Ruling Request on July 10, arguing that the program should be taken off the air.  (A more complete transcript and description of the episodes can be found in Appendix A and the full text of all correspondence is in Appendix B.)

THE DECISION

The English-Language Panel examined the complaints under Clause 12 (Contests and Promotions) of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics which reads as follows:

All on-air contests and promotions shall be conceived and conducted fairly and legitimately and particular care shall be taken to ensure that they are not misleading, potentially dangerous or likely to give rise to a public inconvenience or disturbance and that any prizes offered or promises made are what they are represented to be.

The Panel Adjudicators read all of the correspondence and viewed the challenged broadcasts.  The Panel concludes that CHCH-DT breached Clause 12 for the incorrect solution to the triangle puzzle on March 12, but it is not required to air an announcement of that breach because it already aired a correction on April 2.  The Panel also concludes that CHCH-DT breached Clause 12 on June 4 due to the lack of transparency in the car word-search game.

Telephone System & Off-Air Matters

The CBSC has dealt with complaints about similar broadcasts on several prior occasions.  With respect to the operation of the telephone entry systems on these types of shows, the CBSC has consistently shared the concerns of complainants who feel that the telephone system is generally confusing and that the method of choosing calls to go to air is not particularly clear.[1]  The CBSC can, however, only consider the elements of the broadcast that were aired on CHCH-DT.  Off-screen operations fall outside the ambit of the codes administered by the CBSC.

Triangle Puzzle

The accuracy of the graphic to demonstrate the answer to the March 12, 2017 puzzle “How many triangles are there in the picture?” was a primary concern raised by the first complainant.  It is clear to the Panel and was acknowledged by the broadcaster that the graphic provided was significantly flawed.

The broadcaster indicated that the wrong graphic was the result of glitch on the video which showed a previous solution.  The hardware that caused the glitch was replaced and the correct solution was aired on April 2 and posted to the program’s website.

In previous decisions, the CBSC has stated that transparency is fundamental to the fairness and legitimacy of contests.[2]  In this broadcast, an answer was given at the end of the contest to provide transparency.  Given the flawed nature of the graphic provided, however, the Panel finds a clear breach of Clause 12.

In other situations where broadcasters have aired corrections of their own volition, the CBSC has not always required the announcement of a finding of breach.[3]  In this instance, the CBSC commends CHCH for ensuring that the correct answer was broadcast.  No announcement will be required for this part of the decision.

Car Word-Search Puzzle

During the episode of June 4, 2017 one of the games was a word-search where viewers had to find the name of three different car brands.  Neither the host nor the on-screen scroll stated that the correct answer was three specific brands that the producers had pre-selected, and not just any three brands visible in the grid.

In addition, although the scroll contained information that the brands sought might be historical or exclusive to a foreign place, the host never made mention of those facts.  Instead, the host made the solution seem easy stating “[t]here’s no tricks, guys”.

The Panel considers that not informing viewers that there were three pre-selected brands that made up the correct answer resulted in a lack of transparency.  Further, that the host did not verbally provide the information with respect to historical or foreign brands was not transparent.  Both of these elements constitute breaches of Clause 12.

Clarity of Information to Viewers

In viewing the episodes at issue here, the Panel found that the scroll information was difficult to see.  The text size of the scroll should be larger.  In addition, it would be advisable to slow the speed at which the text scrolls.  For a contest to be conducted fairly in accordance with Clause 12, the contest rules need to be both clear and repeated periodically, as appropriate to the length of the broadcast program and game.  If the broadcaster opts to use a scroll, then it must be legible, i.e. the text must scroll at a reasonable speed and the font must be large enough for an average viewer to be able to read it.  Although the Panel does not find a breach for the text-size and speed of the scroll in these instances, the Panel strongly recommends that improvements be made in the future.

Broadcaster Responsiveness

In all CBSC decisions, the Panels assess the broadcaster’s response to the complainant.  The broadcaster need not agree with the complainant’s position, but it must respond in a courteous, thoughtful and thorough manner.  In this case, the Panel notes that CHCH-DT highlighted the role of the producer in any problems with the show.  The Panel understands that CHCH has no input into the content of the program, but it reminds the station that it nevertheless remains responsible for its broadcast.[4]  CHCH did, however, take the time to contact the producers to pass on the complainants’ concerns, which resulted in the broadcast of the correction in the one case.  On the whole, the broadcaster fulfilled its obligations of responsiveness and, subject to the announcement of this decision, nothing further is required in this regard in this instance.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE DECISION

CHCH-DT is required to:  1) announce the decision, in the following terms, once during prime time within three days following the release of this decision and once more within seven days following the release of this decision during the time period in which Game Time was broadcast, but not on the same day as the first mandated announcement; 2) within the fourteen days following the broadcasts of the announcements, to provide written confirmation of the airing of the statement to the complainants who filed the Ruling Requests; and 3) at that time, to provide the CBSC with a copy of that written confirmation and with air check copies of the broadcasts of the two announcements which must be made by CHCH-DT.

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has found that CHCH breached the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Ethics in its broadcast of Game Time on June 4, 2017.  One of the games on the show lacked transparency, contrary to Clause 12 of the code.

This decision is a public document upon its release by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.

[1] TQS re Call TV (version 1, round 1) (CBSC Decision 08/09-1834 & -1856, August 11, 2009); V re Call TV (version 2) (CBSC Decision 09/10-1563 & -1735, January 25, 2011); V re L’instant gagnant (CBSC Decision 11/12-1452+, December 20, 2012); V re L’instant gagnant (round 2) (CBSC Decision 12/13-0130, April 16, 2013); V re L’instant gagnant (round 3) (CBSC Decision 13/14-1121 & -1575, January 28, 2015)

[2] TQS re Call TV (version 1, round 1) (CBSC Decision 08/09-1834 & -1856, August 11, 2009); CIII-TV (Global Ontario) re Play TV Canada (CBSC Decision 09/10-0201+, April 1, 2010); TQS re Call TV (version 1, round 2) (CBSC Decision 08/09-1827+ & 09/10-0025+, August 24, 2010); V re Call TV (version 2) (CBSC Decision 09/10-1563 & -1735, January 25, 2011); V re L’instant gagnant (CBSC Decision 11/12-1452+, December 20, 2012); V re L’instant gagnant (round 2) (CBSC Decision 12/13-0130, April 16, 2013); V re L’instant gagnant (round 3) (CBSC Decision 13/14-1121 & -1575, January 28, 2015)

[3] CIII-TV (Global Ontario) re a report on News Final (“Dual Protests”) (CBSC Decision 07/08-1677, October 22, 2008); Sun News Network re The Source (Edmonton Artists’ Housing) (CBSC Decision 10/11-2102 & -2124, March 28, 2012); Sun News Network re The Source (Idle No More) (CBSC Decision 12/13-0985, October 23, 2013); CKCO-DT (CTV Kitchener) re a report on CTV News at Six (“Inappropriate Conversation”) (CBSC Decision 14/15-1508, April 7, 2016)

[4] TQS re Call TV (version 1, round 1) (CBSC Decision 08/09-1834 & -1856, August 11, 2009)


Appendix A

Game Time is a contest program in which viewers are invited to telephone the program to solve quizzes, puzzles and problems in order to win cash prizes.  The program is broadcast live.  A host displays a puzzle on screen and then encourages viewers to call in if they know the answer.  In both of these episodes, there is a female host with a British accent.

CHCH-DT broadcast episode of the show on March 12 and June 4, 2017 at 12:30 am Eastern Time.

Both episodes were preceded by the following message in video and audio format:

The following is a paid program not produced by CHCH TV.  For more information on this program, visit www.CallTV.com/GameTimeCanada.

A similar message appeared at the conclusion:

The preceding was a paid program not produced by CHCH TV.  For more information on this program, visit www.CallTV.com/GameTimeCanada.

At the bottom of the screen, there is a box that displays the amount of the cash prize and a brief explanation of the nature of the puzzle.  The prize amount increases the longer it takes a caller to get through to the studio.  Also displayed are the telephone numbers to call, in white letters on a red background:

Mobiles & Landlines call 1-416-628-9989               Other Landlines call 1-900-456-9989

Below that is a smaller box that reads “$1/entry” and beside that is a scrolling message that provides further details about the program with black letters on a white background (question marks mean the CBSC Secretariat was unable to decipher the character due to the poor video quality of the logger):

Please note viewers will be selected at random by computer from all landline, mobile and online entries for the chance to come live on the air to solve the puzzle.  The chance of selection depends on the number of entries.  Not everyone will be selected.  All calls are charged if randomly selected or not.  Calling does not guarantee selection.  A maximum of 99 entries per show and/or 400 entries per month are suggested but please set your own limit.  Some carriers and telephone providers may set lower call entry limits.  Customer service 1-800-???-???? or email gametimecanada@calltv.com.  Enter now.  No purchase necessary.  Entrants must be over 18 and legal residents of Canada.  There are three ways to enter.  From most landline or mobile phones call 1-416-628-9989.  From other landline phones call 1-900-456-9989.  Each entry costs $1.  Telephone charges will appear on your next phone bill or will be deducted from your mobile pre-paid credit.  Alternative entry at calltv.com/gametimecanada.  Full terms and conditions, specific game rules, prior show answers and winners are also shown on our website.  Winner payments are processed within 4 weeks of winners confirming their details to PlayTV Canada.  The host can offer to the participant who gives a correct solution the opportunity to participate in a bonus game.  A table composed of 18 blocks is therefore presented to the ?? and he has to select 4 blocks.  If he finds the 4 hidden jokers, then he is awarded with the bonus prize.

March 12, 2017

An episode was broadcast on March 12, 2017 at 12:30 am.  One of the puzzles was “How many triangles are there in the picture?”  There is an image of one big triangle with additional lines inside it, such that there are multiple smaller triangles inside.

At one point, the host says

While you’re counting, let me remind you of the rules.  There are three ways to play.  Mobile and landline callers may need to call this number: 1-416-628-9989.  Other landline callers may call 1-900-456-9989.  Both those numbers just underneath me there.  Each entry costs one dollar, if randomly selected to come through to me on air or not, remember.  Alternative entry can also be found on our website where you can see full terms, conditions, prior winners and answers to previous games.  We will select viewers to come randomly from all entries.  So, guys, good luck.  Game Time, those are the rules.

Multiple callers get through, though none of them have the correct answer.  They guess 10, 7, 5, 6, 12, 6, 5, 9, 4, 10, 1 and 14.

After a while and after no one has guessed the correct answer, the apparent solution is shown on screen.  Each triangle is highlighted, in turn, with a pink border and the total count appears beside it.  Many lines appear in the solution that are clearly not in the original puzzle.  The solution shows a total count of 24 triangles and even ends with a pink outline showing a line that did not exist in the original puzzle.

During this presentation of the solution, the host says,

Okay look [points at triangle image].  Watch this.  This is how it’s done.  Look, no tricks.  Look at this.  These are the triangles.  Look, see.  This is how it’s done.  Four-, ah, it was over 14.  Okay, it’s still going.  It’s still going.  This is how it’s done, guys.  Pay attention to this.  Twenty-four!  It was twenty-four, you guys!  I’m so sorry we didn’t solve it.  We tried.

At the beginning of the April 2 episode, the host presented the correct solution image:

Hello.  Good evening, Canada.  Welcome to Game Time.  You’re watching us live here in the studio for the next hour and a half of games.  All you have to do is answer the puzzle.  As we put them on screen, get on the phone and tell me the solution.  Now, remember.  Before we start, we have a very small announcement.  Three weeks ago, March the 12th, we played a count-the-triangles game and the solution was 24.  [triangle image appears beside her]  As you can see there.  Now when we played the video solution, there was a graphical bug.  Apologies.  We do get bugs sometimes.  In the system, there was a very small graphical bug.  The solution of 24 triangles was correct.  And here is the correct solution video without any bugs.  We cleaned them all up.  We got rid of them.  Here we go.  This is the solution, guys.  We just want to make sure that you see everything that we see.  This is it nice and clearly then.  This is the correct solution.  Apologies about that.  The answer was correct.  So there we go.  It was twenty-four.  That was the answer.  We had a little bug in the system, but there you go.  You can see it there.  That was the correct solution, guys, so let’s move on.

As she speaks, the triangles are highlighted in pink to show each separate triangle that counts towards the total of 24.  This time, there are no extra lines.

June 4, 2017

At the beginning of the program, the host provides the rules verbally:

Remember the rules!  There are three ways to play.  Mobile and landline callers may dial 1-416-628-9989.  Some landline callers may need to dial 1-900-456-9989.  Both numbers just underneath me there.  Remember that calls cost one dollar if randomly selected to come through to me or not.  Alternative entry can be found on our website where you can see full terms, conditions and answers to previous games.  We would select viewers to come on randomly from all entries and, as always, you have to be over 18.  So those are the rules.

Approximately half an hour into the episode, there is a game “Find 3 car brands in the table!”

A 10×12 grid of letters appears on screen.  It is a word-search game where viewers have to find the name of three different car brands.  The host explains the game:

Now, what we need from you is find three car brands in the table there.  Go find three car brands in the table.  As you can see there’s a table here.  A green table.  And you can see all these letters here.  Can you see all those letters?  I hope you can.  Now, let me tell you.  We are asking you to only look in directions left to right, left to right and top to bottom.  So there’s only two directions we are asking you to look in.  These arrows there are there to help you.  There’s only two directions to look in.  So you are looking from the top to the bottom or left to right.  […] Find three car brands in the table.

Although she repeats that one needs to find 3 car brands and to only look left to right or top to bottom, she never really makes it clear that the correct answer is only the 3 brands that the producers have chosen, not just any 3 brands visible in the grid.  Many callers provide answers that do in fact appear in the grid, but are deemed incorrect.

However, during this game, the following information is added to the scroll:

You have to find the exact solution.  The solution can be formed by one word or more words.  The solution we are looking for can be well-known and current.  Solutions may also be less known, having a historical reference, or something you can find mainly or exclusively in another country, and in this case solutions can be found at oxforddictionaries.com or https://en.wikipedia.org and historic automobiles at http://histomobile.com.  All answers, both common and uncommon will have had at least 50,000 search hits on Google.ca.

Note that the CBSC Secretariat was unable to find any website with the URL “histomobile.com” but it did find “facebook.com/Histomobile.en”

An hour and fifteen minutes into the program, the host verbally repeats the rules:

Let me remind you of the rules while I’m here.  Remember that there are three ways to play.  Mobiles and landlines, you may need to call 1-416-628-9989.  Other landlines, you may need to call 1-900-456-9989.  Each entry costs one dollar if randomly selected to come through to me on air or not.  Alternative entry can also be found on our website where you can see full terms, conditions, prior winners and answers to previous games.  We will select viewers to come on randomly from all entries and you have to be over 18.  Those are rules I remind you of throughout the show and it’s all underneath in scroll too.

Throughout this game, she makes comments such as

The answer is in front of you, in the grid.  It’s there.  There’s no tricks, guys.  It’s just, you’ve got to look, look for the words.  Find those three car brands.  There’s two directions only:  top to bottom, left to right.  Make sure you’re spelling everything correctly.  Make sure it’s a brand.  Make sure you’ve got three.  Make sure you’re going in the right two directions.  There is only one correct solution to this and we will show you the answer at the end.

and

we are playing for three car brands.  That’s what we need.  We’ve had two wrong answers tonight.  Who’s going to give me that correct one?  Who’s going to give me the correct one?  Remember, there are three there for sure.  There are three for sure.  Do not give up.  Do not give up.  […]  Remember that we are only looking in two directions.  So there’s probably lots of car brands you can make, uh, but we are only asking you to look in these two directions.  There’s top to bottom and left to right.  And that’s it.

At one hour and 28 minutes, the solution is presented as GAZ, ACN and Holden.

The last game is a spot-the-difference in a series of animated images.  The prize money shown in the box is $3000, but in smaller print just below it reads “= $100+$2900 bonus game”, meaning $100 is the actual prize, but there is the possibility of winning an extra $2900 through the bonus round.  The bonus amount gradually increases to $9900, with the total $10000 displayed in the box.  At the last minute, a caller gets through and gives the correct answer.  She wins the $100 base amount, but does not find all 4 jokers in order to win the bonus amount.

Appendix B

The Complaints

File 16/17-1690

The CBSC received the following complaint on March 12, 2017:

Television or Radio Station:         CHCH

Program Name:      Game Time

Date of Program:    2017/03/12

Time of Program:   2 to 4 am NL time

Specific Concern:    Obvious scam to encourage 1-900 charges.  Answer to triangle puzzle was incorrect.  Answer included lines that wrestling not in original puzzle.

File 16/17-2179

The CBSC received the following message on June 7, 2017:

Subject: Fwd: Game (Money) show scam

CRTC – I have completed the first step of my complaint to see CHCH TV.  Below is their response from [B. C., a CHCH representative].  Hamilton Spectator ran an article in February 15, 2015 regarding this problem.  At that time, they stopped the show on Global TV in 2011, on CHCH in 2015.  It was stopped due to many complaints and inappropriate activities.  Recently, CHCH pick[ed] it up again, ignoring the newspaper article and sention [sic] of their viewers to this program.  The responses below to my objections.

First stop for any complaint:  your broadcaster.

Broadcasters are responsible for the choice, content, and scheduling of all their programming.  For any complaint about a TV, radio program or ad, contact your broadcaster or service provider first.  Many complaints are resolved at this stage.

Begin forwarded message:

Date: June 7, 2017 at 4:31:54 PM EDT

Subject: Re: Money show scam

This is a very lame excuse.  CHCH-TV determines what programming goes on the television station.  You decide what is right to be on and what does not.  Your viewers trust that you put on television programming… Except acceptable and honest [sic].  Take her that explains the dollar is not clear [sic] and even if you just call the program, you immediately get charged money.  It is not visual to a person who doesn’t have reading glasses in bed.  Watch the show and you’ll know it’s wrong.

I volunteer at a retirement home and clearly they would not be able to see what you’re doing.  You are not trustworthy as a local station anymore.  If you can do this with a clear conscience and sleep at night knowing very well that this is a scam, then I feel sorry for you.

What you’re telling me is that you can put a scamming game show on your television and have no problems with that.  That’s appalling!  This show has been contested for many years and no one wants to take the blame.  Your own newspaper condemned it.  What you’re telling me is that [is] OK?  Go station [sic] has a responsibility to the viewers to be honest and have integrity.  Don’t use a little sticker on the bottom of the screen to make it honest.  It’s not!

It’s clearly not.  Something small that scrolls at the bottom of the TV is not good enough for those who may [be] visual[ly] impaired or have a serious case of dementia.  The article in the Hamilton Spectator is clear that seniors get deceived.  Did you read the article?  Global took it off the air after numerous complaints and you brought it back to the air.  That is pathetic.

You are solely responsible; you allow scammers to go on your network and scam your viewers.  Scammers will do things dishonest and deceive a program director who is foolish enough to believe that this is OK to do.  I guess money for the station is all that matters.

That’s [a] disgusting and unacceptable excuse that you’ve given me.  CRTC should be involved more.  When I was on Global television there were a number of other people who complained about the show as well until it was removed in 2011.  Either get your act together, or there will be repercussions from your foolish programming choices.  I hope you change your mind before action is taken.

On Jun 5, 2017, at 3:37 PM, [B. C.] wrote:

Game Time is an independent production, not produced by CHCH.

CHCH is not affiliated with this program.

There is a scroll that runs across the screen stating the $1 per call charge.  There is also a board aired at the beginning of the program that states this as well.

For full details about the show, you can visit their website at www.calltv.com/gametimecanada, or contact them by email at gametimecanada@calltv.com.

Thank you for taking the time to write to us.

Your concerns over the station airing Game Time will be passed along to the Programming Director and Sales Manager.

—–Original Message—–

Sent: June-04-17 1:31 PM

To: General Mailbox

Subject: Money show scam

I have watched CHCH-TV for a number of years.  I am 56 years old [and] have enjoyed programming on the show in the past.  I’m so glad it’s a local TV station and I’m glad that you have continued in this hard industry.

However, I am extremely disappointed that you would allow a Money Game Show that is a scam to me to be on your TV show station.  They take money from people that are fraudulently deceived into believing that it’s a sincere TV show.  When you call to participate in the show, you’re offered to be charged a dollar or hang up immediately and you will be charged.  No one tells you that you will be charged money.  I wondered why so many people couldn’t get such a simple puzzle.  It’s because they did not let people answer.  The reason they did not let people answer was because the longer you’re on the phone, the more money they could charge.  I received a bill for one dollar because I was smart enough to hang up immediately, recognizing it’s a scam.  If I can find out it’s a scam, surely your TV station’s program director would be able to recognize that it’s a fraud and scam.  I expect better from your station [than] to rip off your viewers.  I am disgusted and expect a response from CHCH-TV in the very near future, even with one dollar refund with a public apology and the removal of that show.  I’ve seen other complaints in the same manner as I’ve complained and the show is still on the air.  If I don’t receive a response, I will call CRTC and let them know the scam you’re running.

I tried to respond to the email text message that was sent to me telling me that they have charged me a dollar.  It’s your responsibility!  If I responded to them, I would be charged more!  This is a total scam!  I am so disappointed in you and your station.  Hope to hear from you very soon!

The CBSC wrote back to the complainant, explaining that it could not adjudicate on the off-air aspects of his complaint, such as the telephone selection system and the charges incurred by callers.  The CBSC can, however, treat any on-air component, such as his allegation that the scroll on screen does not adequately describe how the program works and how participants will be charged.  On June 13, he provided a date and time of a specific episode that concerned him in this regard and elaborated on his concerns about inadequate information:

This show was on Sunday, June 4, 2017, between 12:30 AM and 1:00 AM.  I never heard any warnings about the dollar that I would be charged for calling.  I waited for a long period of time, approximately [a] half-hour, wondering “what is the catch?” because no one was getting the answer correct for such a simple puzzle.  I could see the puzzle and solve it, without my glasses on.  It seems suspicious when no one could get the answer, yet I could answer it.  I could not see any warning or tracker.  Not once did I hear that I [would] be charged a dollar within the second of my phone call.

I was suspicious; however, I decided to call since the lady was so enticing for people to solve this puzzle that was so easy.  During that half-hour I never once heard a warning about the cost.  All I got was a warning immediately that I be charged another dollar.  There was absolutely zero opportunity in this so-called game show to reply or even participate in this game.  If I can see the puzzle, but not the warning [it’s] because it was either not there or the font was too small.  It would be very difficult for those [who] were elderly in bed to see any warning at all.  I watched this show because I had insomnia and I did not have my glasses on.  I relied on the host.  I was even looking for the warning.  I could dial the phone number.  I could see fairly well because I have decent vision.  I don’t wear glasses all the time and I am 56 years old so I don’t mean [unfinished sentence].

There are no verbal warnings or the warning was too small to see.

The next day I received this following text message:

MONEY QUIZZER, Thank you for participating to our last show.  You have been billed 1.0 dollars.  For INFO 18558328274 or DTMP.ca

I hung up immediately when I was told I [would] be charged another dollar, right after the phone was answered.  I realized I’ve been scammed.

I research[ed] the next day and found others have been scammed too.  Here is the link to the Hamilton Spectator.

http://m.thespec.com/news-story/5322467-chch-quiz-show-caller-with-dementia-rings-up-phone-bill

I believe this could be a human rights violation for inappropriate warnings for those who have low vision.  The AODA or the Seniors Association would be very interested in finding [what] little care the station has for seniors.  If there’s any more information you need, which I doubt, please let me know as soon as possible.  Continue your investigation.

The CBSC agreed to proceed with his complaint on the basis of that letter.  He wrote back again on June 15:

The following was the station’s previous response:

Game Time is an independent production, not produced by CHCH.

CHCH is not affiliated with this program.

There is a scroll that runs across the screen stating the $1 per call charge.  There is also a board aired at the beginning of the program that states this as well.

For full details about the show, you can visit their website at www.calltv.com/gametimecanada, or contact them by email at gametimecanada@calltv.com.

Thank you for taking the time to write to us.

Your concerns over the station airing Game Time will be passed along to the Programming Director and Sales Manager.

I had made an attempt to contact the people who are in charge of the game show.

The person who is in charge of the distribution of finances called me and gave me a few lines of how much money they distribute, therefore it cannot be a scam.  There are many complaints on the Internet regarding this game show.  She did not cooperate at all.  That’s when I contacted you.  Thanks for your correspondence and help.  I’m not worried about my dollar but mainly about others who are ripped off by this scam.

Here is a link to the article written by the Spectator from Hamilton regarding people with dementia giving their money to this game show.

http://m.thespec.com/news-story/5322467-chch-quiz-show-caller-with-dementia-rings-up-phone-bill

Broadcaster Responses

File 16/17-1690

CHCH-DT responded to the complainant on April 7:

We are in receipt of your letter dated March 12th, 2017, which was forwarded to us by the CBSC on March 27th, 2017.  Please know that we take your complaint seriously and we have held a copy of the logger tape of the broadcast for March 12th, 2017 as per CBSC requirements.

The program entitled Game Time is a series from ESO TV USA.  CHCH-TV has no ownership in or control over this series.  ESO TV USA has a website for the program at www.CallTV.com/GameTimeCanada as well as gametimecanada@calltv.com or call their Customer Care number at 1-855-778-5797 where you can express your concerns about the program.

Given the nature of your complaint, we’ve contacted the producers of the show about the error with the solution board.  The producers recognized that the solution video was incorrect to the presented triangle.  This was caused by a glitch on the video which showed a previous solution board, but did not affect the game as it was presented nor the correct answer of 24.  Since the correct answer was not given, the prize money was carried into the next game and was won as part of the next game’s prize money.

The hardware which caused the glitch has since been replaced and the program should resume as usual.  In light of this issue the producers will display the correct solution video at the start of the episode airing Sunday, April 2nd at midnight as well as post the solution board on their website.

We acknowledge your concerns about this program and take all viewer observations into consideration for future programming strategies and thank you for your comments.

File 16/17-2179

Although the station had corresponded with the complainant prior to CBSC involvement, CHCH-DT responded again to the complainant on July 6:

We are in receipt of your letter which was forwarded to us by the CBSC on June 15, 2017.  We have reviewed and stored a copy of the logger tape of the June 4, 2017 broadcast as per CBSC requirements.

Prior to the broadcast of the program from ESO TV USA, we were provided with a legal opinion confirming that the program is compliant with all Canadian laws.  It is noted that the various ways to call in and the rules of the game are continuously on screen and inclusive of a crawl running at the bottom of the screen and, on the website during every segment to satisfy the CAB Broadcast Code of Ethics.  ESO TV USA lists all the winners online.

However, we acknowledge your concerns about this program and have shared them with the producer of the program who has taken your concerns seriously and will make adjustments accordingly.

Additionally, we cannot adequately comment about programming on other stations but we know it was not the same series addressed here.

We acknowledge that this programming may not be to your taste but endeavour to find content at other times that you will enjoy more.

We take all viewer observations into consideration for future programming strategies and thank you for your comments.

Additional Correspondence

File 16/17-1690

The complainant submitted his Ruling Request on April 7:

The answer is secondary to my concern about this show.  I maintain that 24 is not the correct answer for the puzzle shown.

The callers to this show seemed to be overwhelmingly elderly and I suspect that many are unaware of the cost per call.  I also suggest the callers are unaware that not only do you need to have the correct answer but you need to be randomly selected by some unknown algorithm.  In any game of chance there needs to be clarity of the risk.  The process through which these calls are selected is of concern and lacks clarity.

From a quick search for this show online I have found numerous Canadian complaints ranging from incorrect and obtuse answers to complaints that the callers are unaware of how they will be charged for playing this game.  I also see this show or one similar was the subject of a CBSC ruling in 2010.

http://www.thespec.com/news-story/5322467-chch-quiz-show-caller-with-dementia-rings-up-phone-bill/

http://www.brantfordexpositor.ca/2013/11/22/senior-spent-hundreds-calling-into-tv-quiz-shows

CANADIAN BROADCAST STANDARDS COUNCIL ONTARIO REGIONAL PANEL CIII-TV (Global Ontario) re Play TV Canada (CBSC Decision 09/10-0201+) Decided April 1, 2010

Again, I have not played nor do I personally know anyone who has played this game show.

I understand that the CBSC has a voluntary Code of Ethics and clause 12 says

Clause 12 – Contests and Promotions

All on-air contests and promotions shall be conceived and conducted fairly and legitimately and particular care shall be taken to ensure that they are not misleading, potentially dangerous or likely to give rise to a public inconvenience or disturbance and that any prizes offered or promises made are what they are represented to be.

In my opinion this show fails to meet this clause in the CBSC Code of Ethics regardless if the answer is correct or not.

File 16/17-2179

The complainant wrote back to the broadcaster on July 6 with a copy to the CBSC:

I am disappointed that you do not take into account that people are watching this without their glasses on laying down in bed, unable to see the writing.  I’m disappointed that you don’t find that older people could be ripped off as the article that I sent you in the Hamilton Spectator already wrote an article [sic] about this show and they were far more effective than you.  I’m disappointed that CHCH-TV would actually air this program despite opposition from people previously who complained and work with the elderly.  I’m disappointed [that] the governing body over TV does so little to protect the viewers.  This is an outrage!  I’m disappointed that you would tell me just to turn the channel.  I wouldn’t watch says the scam of the show.  I guess some viewers care more about the elderly and also have more discernment than your organization.  Have a good sleep tonight because many people will be worrying about the money they lost as a result of the governing body [and] as a result of your organization not taking action into a scam.  I’m disappointed in you if you think it’s about just turning the channel.  It’s not.  If you get paid to say that and feel good about it, I feel sorry for you.  I guess you’ve never done volunteer work for any elderly or dementia people.  I care about the elderly and I care for others.  I am disabled myself and I’m disappointed in everything about the way you were not taking this serious[ly]. What a disappointment!  Your lack of action and CHCH-TV is a disgrace.  How disappointing!

On July 7, he then sent the CBSC additional links to articles and comments about Game Time:

Subject:  Game time scam

http://www.brantfordexpositor.ca/2013/11/22/senior-spent-hundreds-calling-into-tv-quiz-shows

Subject:  [CBSC #1617-2179]

http://www.ign.com/boards/threads/canadians-have-you-ever-played-playtv-canada.188598991/

The CBSC acknowledged receipt of these emails and reminded him of the option to file a Ruling Request if he remained dissatisfied.  He did so on July 10:

[CBSC] – you are giving computer responses.  It did not get resolved by you or any other person.  If you read your email personally, you would have found that it was not done to my satisfaction.  THE GAME IS STEALING FROM SENIORS!

I will go to the news if the show isn’t off the air and will use your name as one who supports this show if you do not do anything about it.