ETA: I think what’s going to come out of this is AT&T employees will no longer attend Idol viewing parties. But as far as Idol producers changing the voting system? It’s never going to happen. There’s too much hype and too much money tied up into the current system. I don’t think it needs to be changed. Idol wouldn’t be the same with out it’s super-invested fans voting their fingers bloody. Think about that.
American Idol producers and AT&T have both released statements regarding yesterday’s New York Times story accusing Idol of voting irregularities. At issue were reports of Conway, AR AT&T employee’s handing out free cell phones and power-texting instructions at Kris Allen watch parties .
…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.
…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 quite a leap to suggest that a few individuals could have impacted the final results.
The Arkansas Post-Democrat said the phone company provided about 50 units at one event, 30 at another. Other sources put the number of phones as considerably lower.
THR did the math:
Let’s say there were indeed 80 free power-text phones in play. And suppose each was used to vote once per minute by Allen partygoers while they watched the two-hour “American Idol” telecast (keep in mind this was AT&T staffers demo’ing phones at a party, not an underground Allen voting boiler room). That’s 9, 600 text messages. And suppose each voter sent 10 votes for Allen each time. That would give Allen 96, 000 votes.
So yeah. This dog don’t hunt…