AT&T caught in 'Idol' texting controversy

AT&T Mobility employees may have influenced the results of the finale of "American Idol" by providing phones, free text-messaging services and instructions on how to cast votes via text at parties organized by fans of singer Kris Allen. Allen was this year's "American Idol" winner.

There appears to have been no similar effort for fans of Adam Lambert, the runner-up in the competition.

"In Arkansas, we were invited to attend the local watch parties organized by the community," AT&T said in a statement. "A few local employees brought a small number of demo phones with them and provided texting tutorials to those who were interested."

Since "American Idol" began broadcasting eight years ago, AT&T has been the exclusive carrier through which fans could send their votes via text. The carrier has sought to maintain that exclusivity, which seems to have paid off. Although the show's year-over-year Nielsen ratings dropped by about 3 million viewers this past season, AT&T said fans accounted for more than 178 million text messages this time around, the highest total for any season to date and more than double the 78 million messages the carrier reported last year.

For more:
- see this NYT article

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