BBC cancels all phone-in competitions

The BBC moved into damage-limitation mode this afternoon as a BBC Trust review found the corporation to have repeatedly made serious editorial breaches in some of its most popular programmes.

All phone-related competitions will end from midnight tonight while interactive and online competitions are currently being removed.

Editorial leaders involved in the six cited programmes were suspended and BBC director general Mark Thompson announced a mandatory training programme for 16,500 staff.

The programmes involved included Comic Relief and Children in Need.

The judgement comes after a difficult fortnight for the BBC.

The corporation was forced to formally apologise over misleading editing in a programme featuring the Queen last week and it received a fine from media regulator Ofcom over a falsified result on a Blue Peter programme, costing it £55,000.

Despite calling for the review himself, the scale of the problems mean Mr Thompson is facing growing calls for high-level resignations over the review’s conclusions.

In an interview on BBC News 24, Mr Thompson said the situation was “totally unacceptable” and assured the public the BBC would have “zero tolerance” for any future lapses.

But pushed on whether there would be resignations he said: “The subject of resignations did not come up this morning”.

The BBC Trust said: “We have made clear that we regard any deception or breach of faith with our audiences as being utterly unacceptable.”

Lib Dem culture, media and sports spokesman Don Foster added: “Today is ‘Black Wednesday’ for public service broadcasting as the trust we’ve traditionally placed in broadcasters is called into question.

“We rely upon our public broadcasters to present information which is impartial, accurate and without agenda.

“Such lapses in judgment are wholly unacceptable and broadcasters now have a lot to do to regain the public’s confidence and trust.”