International owner backs M-Net’s ‘Idols’ decision

2009-05-10 00:00

Johannesburg — Despite the SMS scandal that hit the SA Idols series on M-Net, the programme will not be scrapped.

Fremantle, the international company that owns the rights to Idols, has given its full support to M-Net for declaring both Sasha-Lee Davids and Jason Hartman as the winners of this year’s Idols.

Fremantle admitted from Britain that this was the biggest Idols scandal yet. There have been some problems with the SMS system in Britain and France, the firm said, but the final result has never been affected anywhere else.

Theo Erasmus, the head of entertainment at M-Net, said their decision to announce Jason as an additional winner, even though he beat Sasha-Lee by more than 200 000 votes, is in the interest of fairness towards Sasha-Lee.

About 600 000 SMSes were delayed during the final round of the competition.

This delay saw Jason’s standing increase from 47,23% to a majority of 54%. Sasha-Lee eventually got 46% of the vote.

Erasmus said a technical investigation will be held.

Meanwhile, one of the judges, Mara Louw, called on Sasha-Lee to do the honourable thing and hand the title over to Jason.

“It wasn’t Sasha-Lee’s fault, but she mustn’t be selfish now. Jason is the winner.”

Mara said she could understand that Sasha-Lee was terribly traumatised by hearing she was the winner and being told a week later that she had not really won.

Randall Abrahams disagreed and said Sasha-Lee shouldn’t be punished for something that wasn’t her fault.

Gareth Cliff said the whole affair was “completely unacceptable and a huge embarrassment”, blaming cellphone networks.

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