Fox brass are getting more and more nervous about the way Simon Cowell is conducting this controversial but lucrative 7th series of The X Factor in the UK before the show comes to the U.S. in Fall 2011. Viewers are ringing up ITV and TV regulator Ofcom complaining that Sunday’s vote show was rigged. They’re mad because Treyc Cohen, 28, was booted off The X Factor after a sing-off with tabloid favourite Katie Waissel, whose panic attacks and other escapades make for better ratings than Cohen’s serviceable voice but dull presence. One judge abstained after two other judges, including Simon Cowell, voted to send Cohen home, and a fourth judge voted for her to stay. Had that judge not abstained, creating deadlock, then the public vote would have decided the winner, which would have been Cohen (with 2/3s of the public vote). It’s not the first time that an X Factor judge has abstained. But the loser’s father says the “fix” was in, telling The Sun: “Lots of things happen behind the scenes so certain contestants are kept in.” Ofcom tells me it’s unlikely to investigate. Meanwhile, it’s sobering to think of the amount of money involved. X Factor pulled in 14.9 million viewers on Sunday night’s vote show, peaking at 16.7 million with a 50% share of all TV viewing. This 7th series is expected to earn £72 million ($116 million) in revenue through a mixture of advertising (£50 million), sponsorship (£10 million), phone-line revenue (£5 million), the live tour (£5 million) and merchandise (£2 million).
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