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Celebrity Big Brother refunds voters after error

LONDON - 'Celebrity Big Brother' has opened itself up to more controversy by cancelling thousands of eviction votes made last night, because of a human error that resulted in the wrong message being shown on screen in reference to Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty.

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While the voice-over was correct and stated "To vote to evict Shilpa" the on-screen text mistakenly read, "To vote to save Shilpa". Shetty faces eviction on Friday, but is still odds-on favourite to win the series, which finishes on Sunday night.

Channel 4 is now faced with refunding thousands of calls made by members of the public to premium rate phone lines costing 50p if phoned from a BT line and more if registered through a call from a mobile phone network. The channel will also have to refund the 50p it charges for each text vote, with any revenues from unclaimed calls being made to charity.

In a statement, 'Big Brother' producer Endemol said: "This was a genuine mistake which was due to human error. We apologise to viewers and feel the best way to rectify it is to cancel the vote so far and re-open the voting again this evening, at the end of tonight's show. We have consulted with our independent adjudicator before making this decision.

"Viewers who voted can have a full refund and any unclaimed monies will be donated to charity. Following this error the profits from Friday night's re-opened eviction voting will also go to the candidates' charities."

'Celebrity Big Brother' ran into trouble this series over racist comments levelled at Shetty from housemates Jade Goody and Danielle Lloyd. Complaints to Channel 4 and Ofcom have now reached more than 46,000.

It is not the first time the Channel 4 programme, produced by Endemol, has run into controversy surrounding phone votes for 'Big Brother'.

In October last year, the programme was fined £40,000 by premium rate phone line regulator Icstis, for letting a previously evicted housemate, Nikki Grahame, re-enter the Big Brother house during the seven series.

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