Regulator Ofcom has ruled that ITV breached the broadcaster code when a stand-in dog performed a high-rope walk during the finals of Britain's Got Talent. Matisse, the border collie owned by Jules O'Dwyer, was the dog performing in the audition and was the main act of the show. A day after winning the talent show, O'Dwyer stated in an interview that one of her other dogs, called Chase, performed the high-rope walk.
Now, the Office for Communications has ruled that the show was misleading viewers, by the dog swap during the finale on 31 May 2015, which is a breach of rule 2.14 of the broadcaster code. It investigated the matter after it had received 1,175 complaints from viewers who were concerned and felt misled.
An Ofcom spokesman said: "We accepted ITV had no intention to deceive the audience. However, the presentation of the act did not make clear to viewers that a central part was performed by a second dog.
"Broadcasters inviting viewers to vote using premium rate numbers have a particular responsibility to ensure the audience is clear about what they are voting for. By failing to do so, we've concluded the presentation of the act was likely to have materially misled some people."
Ofcom ruled it is up to ITV if it would refund voters and the broadcaster announced it decided to do so, however, almost 90% of the votes O'Dwyer had received for her dog dancing act went through the app, meaning they did not cost voters any money.
O'Dwyer took home a price of £250,000 ($390,000) after winning with the act, which was called Jules and Matisse, which narrowly beat runner-up magician Jamie Raven. Ofcom said it was up to the show and the channel whether it would re-run the vote, but ITV decided against this.
ITV also said the name of the show might have been misleading, but it was the chaos in the run-up to the series finale that made O'Dwyer decide to substitute Matisse for Chase in the high-rope part of the show.