Unusual circumstances surrounding the SMS voting process during the live broadcast final episode of M-Net’s talent show Idols, held on 3 May in Johannesburg, have resulted in Jason Hartman being declared a winner alongside Sasha Lee Davids, who was originally proclaimed the winner.
This is a decision taken by the owners of the Idols format, M-Net and FremantleMedia, and is a world first in the history of the format.
According to M-Net CEO Patricia Scholtemeyer, not all the SMS votes cast before the cut-off time at 18h05 on 3 May had been received and accounted for. “We immediately began corrective action to understand fully the true situation. Following the recount, It turned out that there were 1.3 million votes for Jason and 1.1 million votes for Sasha Lee, which is evidence of the immense public following that both these contestants have garnered during the course of the competition.”
Scholtemeyer describes the public participation throughout Idols Season V as “phenomenal”. “For the first time, the voting public had 100% say in the outcome of the competition to decide the winner. Therefore, every vote counted and it was imperative that the votes were counted accurately.”
When M-Net conducted its regular post-show internal analysis on the morning of 4 May, it became apparent that an unusual amount of SMS votes that had been sent in before the 18h05 cut-off time, which had not been received and thus included in the result.
M-Net management took action and called in KPMG to independently conduct a recount and verify the actual results. As a result of this process, it has emerged that Jason did in fact receive more votes than Sasha Lee.
“While we acknowledge that this was not a scenario that we had expected or wanted, we are delighted with the outcome as both Jason and Sasha Lee are true Idols. We will be following their careers closely and with great interest,” said Scholtemeyer.