Simon Cowell's ITV talent show Britain's Got Talent misled TV viewers over the use of a second dog for a special stunt during the finale of the latest season, U.K. media watchdog Ofcom has ruled.
Dog Matisse and its handler ended up winning the final. It later emerged that another dog performed a tightrope walk that was part of the final routine.
The tightrope walk prompted a standing ovation from the judges, including Cowell. The dog act drew 22.6 percent of the public's vote, 2 percentage points ahead of a magician, to win the show's $383,000 prize. When the trainer the next morning mentioned that a stunt-double dog had performed the tightrope walk, more than 1,000 viewers complained to Ofcom.
The producers apologized for "not making it clearer" that Matisse had been swapped, but Cowell reportedly wasn't aware of the switch either.
Ofcom concluded that ITV did not mean to deceive viewers, but ruled the audience was nonetheless misled. "After a detailed investigation, we found ITV broke broadcasting rules by misleading viewers during the series finale," said Ofcom.
"There was never any intention to mislead viewers," ITV said in a statement. "The majority of votes cast for Jules’ act were received through the free voting app. However, we accept that some viewers who voted for the winning act by a paid voting route may wish to seek a refund or that the cost of their vote be donated in full to the Royal Variety charity."
It posted details about how to obtain a refund or request that a refund be donated to the charity on its website.
This story was originally published on The Hoilywood Reporter.