AT&T may have influenced the outcome of the “American Idol” finale by supplying phones for free text-message voting services at fan parties for Kris Allen, according to a new report in the New York Times.
According to the report, AT&T, one of the shows biggest corporate supporters, is the only mobile phone network that can be used to cast “Idol” votes via text. Citing both AT&T sources and people at the events, the mobile giant provided free texting-services at two Arkansas parties organized by Allen fans after the final performance episode of “Idol.” Allen was later named the winner of the show.
There were no reported AT&T representatives to provide similar services at any Adam Lambert support parties.
Moreover, the texting tutorials reportedly included demonstrations on how to send power texts, an act that sends up to 10 messages with the press of a single button. Power texts can have a substantial effect on voting results.
“American Idol” warns against power texting on every episode, noting that the use of “technical enhancements” can render votes invalid.
A representative for FOX Broadcasting denied any unfair advantage however, describing Allen's victory as completely legitimate. In a statement to FOXNews.com Wednesday, the rep said, “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.”
A spokesman for AT&T said via statement, “In Arkansas, we were invited to attend the local watch parties organized by the community. A few local employees brought a small number of demo phones with them and provided texting tutorials to those who were interested.”
Final voting tallies for Kris Allen and Adam Lambert have yet to be released.