Commission to meet C4 bosses over legality of Noel Edmonds gameshow where cash
prizes are won without skill
The Gambling Commission will meet senior executives at Channel 4 in
the next few days to discuss concerns that its hit teatime gameshow Deal or No
Deal may constitute gambling.
The commission is due to publish new
advice on the implications of the Gambling Act for broadcasters and producers
It is understood to have particular concerns about the Noel
Edmonds gameshow, which broadcast for the first time on Channel 4 in 2005.
Deal or No Deal could be breaking the law because the format, which
features 22 different boxes containing various amounts of money from 1p up to
£250,000, does not involve an element of skill.
Non-skill games played for profit require a
Sir Peter Bazalgette, the former chief creative
officer of Deal or No Deal producer Endemol, which also makes Big Brother, said
it could have wide-ranging implications for the TV industry if the Channel 4
show was classified as gambling.
He said it could impact on any
gameshow including an element of luck.
"This could be an operation of
the law of unintended consequences," said Bazalgette, who was responsible for
persuading Noel Edmonds to take the presenter's role on the show, which is
closing in on its 2,000th edition.
"Whatever the letter of the law in
regard to television entertainment the sensible position here is that with Deal
or No Deal you have a gameshow that has been on air in more than 50 countries
around the world. In some of those territories gambling is illegal, but the
gameshow is still allowed on TV," he said.
"It would be very strange if
the UK suddenly decided you couldn't have Deal or No Deal on air."
commission is also understood to be looking at ITV's big-money gameshow, Red or
Black, produced by Simon Cowell and presented by Ant and Dec, which the
broadcaster announced on Monday had been commissioned for a second series.
ITV revealed a number of changes to the format for the second series
including stressing that the gameshow requires contestants to "use their
judgment and skill" - as opposed to relying on luck - and that they will have
"more control over their own destinies".
The broadcaster has also
piloted a revamp of Bruce Forsyth's Play Your Cards Right, presented by Vernon
Bazalgette added: "Play Your Cards Right was a show for many years
on ITV. Could that be revived?
"What we need is a sensible outcome.
Common sense needs to reassert itself. Television that is not doing anybody any
harm should be allowed to continue."
The Gambling Commission's guidance
note next month is expected to draw broadcasters and programme-makers'
attention to the law in relation to gambling and help them understand it.
If Deal or Deal was classified as a gambling programme it would not
necessarily have to move to a post-watershed slot, however. Horse racing is
broadcast during the day, for instance.
Media regulator Ofcom's
Broadcasting Code does not say anything specific about gambling. A spokesman
for the Gambling Commission said it did not comment on individual
A Channel 4 spokeswoman said: "Channel 4 has been contacted by
the Gambling Commission about the popular long running series Deal Or No Deal,
but it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time."