The 10 Television Network has admitted duping advertisers by screening only a test pattern between 4pm and 4.55 pm each week day.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has demanded that the network show cause why it should not face a heavy financial penalty for its actions.
“We believe the 10 Network has been pulling this trick for years,” an ACCC spokesperson told The Bug. “They have breached the trust placed in them by their advertisers and we are prepared to take action against the network that could result in a multi-million-dollar fine under national consumer laws.”
The Bug understands that from Monday to Friday the 10 Network has not been screening full episodes of its US-made soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful.
The channel has admitted putting to air only the last five minutes of the program but still charging for advertisements supposedly screened in the remaining 55 minutes even though during that period only a test pattern was shown.
The network would not comment to The Bug but one former employee told us: “You’d laugh if you knew the piddling amount the station’s penny-pinchers saved by not paying royalties to the production company that owns TBATB for the 55 minutes it didn’t broadcast the show. To take such risks then really is a sign of the deep financial trouble the network is in.”
The ACCC said 10 Network was in the perfect position to pull off the scam.
“Nobody watches 10, everyone knows that,” the spokesperson said, “and if anyone is watching in the late afternoon they only tune in at around 4.55 pm in time to catch the news at 5pm.
“This group catches the last five minutes of Bold and the Beautiful which is more than sufficient to keep up with the storylines that all move at a glacial pace.
“These viewers appear to be the only ones in the country watching that particular soap opera and, indeed, that particular channel.
“It seems the 10 Network long ago put two and two together and realised it could get away with not showing anything for 55 minutes after 4pm.
“We understand they tried it on and soon found out that nobody noticed. Not even their advertisers were bothering to watch which only encouraged the network to make the test pattern a permanent feature of its weekday afternoon programming,” the ACCC spokesperson said.
An expert in trade practices and consumer rights law at Southern Cross University’s Helidon campus, Dr Seymore Crapp, down-played the ACCC threats of massive fines.
“Sure, the 10 Network would have faced “potentially crippling fines” that might have forced the station off air permanently if anyone had actually tuned into the station and discovered its deceptively false, non-advertising scam. But there’s the Catch 22: advertisers won’t be able to claim for supposed losses in revenue, simply because no-one was watching that crap anyway, including themselves.”