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'American Idol' producers acknowledge vote tampering

By Reality TV World staff, 08/18/2002 

The Associated Press reports that producers of the hit Fox show "American Idol" say the talent contest is being slammed by "power dialers" trying to influence the results by making as many as 10,000 votes a night from a single phone line.

With fast Internet connections and powerful computer autodialing software, about 100 "phone phreaks" are casting thousands of votes with the touch of a button, producers acknowledged this week in response to questions from The Associated Press.

"They're all over the country and they tend to be slamming the system at all ends," said Michael Eaton, vice president of home entertainment for FreemantleMedia, the show's London-based producer. So far, these calls have had a "statistically insignificant" impact on the outcome, Eaton said, but he wouldn't release any data on individual contestants and their vote totals.

If the power-dialing volume skews votes toward one of the four remaining contestants, Eaton said they may contact the people responsible and ask them to stop. "We know who these people are and we're tracking them, and if it gets to a point where they're starting to support a specific person over another then there are steps that we have discussed that we may take at that time," Eaton warned.

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