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'American Idol' to assign additional voting phone numbers for finale... but will it matter?

By Reality TV World staff, 05/25/2004 

Attempting to quell the ongoing controversy over the program's voting system, the producers of FOX's American Idol have announced that Fantasia Barrino and Diana DeGarmo, the two finalists left competing for this season's Idol title, will have additional voting phone numbers allocated to them for the show's finale voting. FOX had also previously announced that as it did last year, the finale's voting period would also be extended from two hours to four hours.

"We had already planned on expanding the voting window for the finale, just as we did last year. With the volume of calls this season already exceeding last year's finale, we also felt it was important to give fans additional phone numbers in an attempt to reduce congestion at local exchanges," stated executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz in a statement released Friday.

Immediately after Tuesday's performance show, the phone lines will open and American Idol viewers can vote for their favorite contestant using any one of the phone numbers assigned to their chosen performer. Fans will be able to continue voting via phone or text messaging from their AT&T Wireless phones for the entire four hours.

Of course, given that viewers' voting problems have reportedly not been due to insufficient lines on FOX's end but instead caused by local phone systems that simply can not handle the enormous number of calls looking to connect to AT&T's national long distance network, it is highly questionable as to whether the addition of more phone numbers will have any practical benefit at all.

But hey, for those viewers who aren't in the know, the idea sounds good and makes for good PR... and at this point and time, it's all about damage control. Perhaps by next January FOX will take some meaningful steps that might actually help address the deficiencies of a voting system that has increasingly jeopardized the integrity of the program and might very well ultimately succeed in doing what no other network executive could do -- namely take down FOX's ratings golden goose.

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