Former F1 broadcaster ITV has escaped a financial penalty after being found guilty of failing to award a prize for one of the competitions that formed a mainstay of its coverage of the sport.

UK broadcasting watchdog OFCOM opted not to levy the punishment after deciding that ITV's 'openness and efficiency' in reporting the problem, which arose when a third-party telephony company claimed complications that resulted in some 18,000 entries not being recovered from its systems. The competition, which accompanied the 2008 season finale in Brazil, attracted some 139,000 entries, all of whom called a ?1 premium rate line for the chance to win, but had still not awarded the prize nine months later, when the matter came to light.

According to Broadcast Now, ITV blamed human error, and revealed that it had organised both 'a new draw' to find a winner for the prize on offer and a three-month window for disgruntled entrants to claim a refund. The company admitted that the problem has been the result of opting to remain with the third-party provider rather than take its competitions in-house.

OFCOM criticised the breach of its broadcasting code, claiming that it was wrong that the 'error did not emerge for some months and affected a relatively large competition', finding that ITV's systems 'could not have been sufficient'.