American Idol vote controversy proves Fox should release vote totals at the contest's end
Even though AT&T employees in Arkansas helped Kris Allen fans place "power texting" votes for him in American Idol's finale, the results did not affect the ultimate result, Fox TV said in a statement today.
But I say the controversy makes the argument from something Fox should do every year: release the show's vote totals to the public for review, once the season is done.
The Hollywood Reporter Web site has Fox's response in an interesting follow-up to the New York Times story today noting that staffers at AT&T -- an Idol sponsor -- provided free text-messaging services at two parties supporting Allen's in Arkansas.
The Reporter also did the math, concluding that, if the 80 or so cell phones supposedly distributed by AT&T staffers were used to vote for him throughout the May 19 performance show, he would get a maximum of 96,000 text-messaged votes -- hardly enough to sway a competition that Fox said attracted 100 million votes.
Of course, since vote totals are not released to the public, we only have Idol's word that there were 100 million votes, or that their screening process filtered out bulk voting, or that the margin between the finalists was big enough that 100,000 or so votes wouldn't matter, anyway.
I understand why votes totals aren't released during the show; they would skew the competition by telegraphing which contestants are more popular than the others.
But once the competition is done, there seems to be little problem in releasing vote totals for the finalists, broken down by week, so the public could see how the competition progressed.
I'm not holding my breath on this one. But given the intense public interest -- and laws on the books against manipulating game shows -- there seems to be a potent argument for pushing Fox to disclose how its voting totals played out.
Click below to read Fox and AT&T's statements, as published by the Hollywood Reporter: *
“Fox and the producers of 'American Idol' are absolutely certain that the results of this competition are fair, accurate and verified. Kris Allen is, without a doubt, the American Idol. We have an independent third-party monitoring procedure in place to ensure the integrity of the voting process. In no way did any individuals unfairly influence the outcome of the competition.”
Also, AT&T released this statement:
“Last week, countless parties were held in homes, bars, and other public places across America to watch the 'American Idol' finale. In Arkansas, a few local AT&T employees were invited to attend two local watch parties organized by the community. Caught up in the enthusiasm of rooting for their hometown contestant, they brought a small number of demo phones with them and provided texting tutorials to those who were interested. Going forward, we will make sure our employees understand our sponsorship celebrates the competition, not individual contestants. That said, it’s quite a leap to suggest that a few individuals could have impacted the final results.”