BBC employee posed as caller in radio phone-in

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LONDON, Oct 3 (Reuters) The BBC admitted that an employee posed as a member of the public for a phone-in competition on Radio 1 last year, the latest in a series of trust breaches that have rocked the corporation.

The production team had asked the member of staff to make the call for a pre-recorded section of the Jo Whiley show on April 20, 2006.

A number of staff members have been disciplined, the BBC yesterday said in a statement, but no further details were available.

The pre-recorded section was unusual for a live show, but had been arranged because Whiley, one of the most high-profile DJs on the flagship station, had been involved in other commitments that day.

''We would like to make clear that Jo Whiley was unaware that the caller was not a genuine member of the public,'' the statement added.

The BBC Trust said it was aware of the breach of editorial standards, and was satisfied management were taking appropriate action.

It is the latest in a string of scandals to have blighted the BBC and other media channels, involving fake on-air competitions.

Last month, the BBC admitted producers of children's programme ''Blue Peter'' had deceived thousands of young viewers for a second time in a year by ignoring their votes to choose a name for the show's kitten.

Children had been asked to help name the cat in an online vote, but producers ignored the result without telling the audience, opting to go for ''Socks'' instead of the winning ''Cookie.'' The show, one of the BBC's longest-running programmes, had been fined 50,000 pounds by the media regulator Ofcom in July in another incident, when a studio guest posed as a fake competition winner.

The latest Blue Peter incident was one of four revealed by BBC Director-General Mark Thompson during a review of the corporation's output.

The Jo Whiley Show incident has emerged since that list was published.

Earlier this year, the BBC apologised to the Queen for implying in a documentary trailer that she had stormed out of a photo-shoot with celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz.

REUTERS SG HT0932

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