ITV violated broadcasting rules by running contests where more than 40,000 participants had no chance of winning, according to Ofcom.

TV surveillance has worked on competitions in Good Morning Britain, Lorraine, This Morning, Loose Women, Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, La Vuelta, and X Factor: The Band.

It said about 41,252 contestants participating in the competition between 2016 and 2019 had no chance of winning.

A spokeswoman for Ofcom said: “Our investigation found that people who entered these contests by mail were excluded from the lottery, with no chance of winning.

“ITV failed to follow proper procedures and this resulted in a clear breach of our rules, which require that all broadcast competitions be conducted fairly.”

The contests invited viewers to enter by phone, text message, on the ITV website, or by mail, but while phone, text messages, and online entries usually cost a higher price, those entering by mail only pay the cost of the stamp.

ITV blamed the “human error” on the part of employees tasked with putting the information into a spreadsheet, adding that it “deeply regrets” the error.

The broadcaster said it has reviewed every competition it has run since the postal entries were introduced in 2014 and the number of contests affected was less than 1%.

She has plans to improve postal entry procedures and plans to donate the money to a charity as a sign of “sincere remorse.”

“It’s unbelievable that one of our main broadcasters has failed to follow proper procedures over a three-year period with more than 40,000 people tricked into believing there is a chance to win,” said Julian Knight, president of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Commission.

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“These contests have associated with some of the biggest ITV brands, including Good Morning Britain, and ITV was right to refer itself to Ofcom with the full scope of the violation now clear.

“People should be able to trust our public broadcasting services – failure at this level threatens to damage that trust.”