Big Brother phone vote charity donations scrapped by Channel 4

Big Brother broadcaster says it can no longer afford to give money from voting lines to good causes

Big Brother 2009: First 16 housemates

Big Brother 2009: the first 16 housemates. Photograph: Channel 4

Channel 4 will no longer donate any money to charity from its Big Brother phone votes because it says it cannot afford to do so.

The broadcaster has since the 2006 series given 10p to charity for every vote cast in the reality TV show, which returned for its 10th series last week. It blamed the ongoing economic downturn and slump in advertising for the decision.

Channel 4 said the Big Brother vote line had been losing money for the last couple of years, and it was no longer prepared to bear the cost. Phone votes for the new series will be charged at 35p from a landline.

"The costs associated with running the Big Brother vote line have meant it has run at a considerable loss for the last couple of years," said a Channel 4 spokesman.

"Given the current climate, after very careful consideration, Channel 4 has regretfully decided not to make charity donations for this series of Big Brother in order to limit this loss and ensure we are managing our finances optimally to allow us to continue delivering our public service remit."

The broadcaster said the decision to axe the charity payments had been made in response to a downturn in the UK advertising market that has led Channel 4 to cut its programme and content budget by more than 10% this year.

Before 2006 the phone vote had been run "purely on a for-profit basis", Channel 4 added, and today's decision would "bring the programme into line with reality series on other channels including The X Factor, Dancing on Ice and Strictly Come Dancing".

Channel 4 said it was the only one of the major commercially funded broadcasters not to run premium rate services for a profit

This was a policy introduced in 2007 following a string of phone-in scandals, including the You Say, We Pay competition on Channel 4's Richard & Judy daytime show.

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Big Brother phone vote charity donations scrapped by Channel 4

This article was first published on guardian.co.uk at 12.00 BST on Monday 8 June 2009. It was last updated at 12.01 BST on Monday 8 June 2009.

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