Posted by Rachel Leigh - email
LOS ANGELES (WFLX) - One of American Idol's biggest sponsors is being accused of influencing the outcome of this year's competition.
AT&T provided phones for free text-messaging services and lessons in casting blocks of votes at two finale parties organized by Kris Allen fans. This is according to the company and people who attended the parties.
Allen, the Arkansas singer, won the competition last week, receiving more votes then the favored contestant, Adam Lambert. It appears no similar efforts were provided to Lambert fans.
In a statement issued Tuesday, a spokesman for AT&T said, "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."
Details of the voting support were first reported last week in an article in The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:
"In Conway after Tuesday's performances, fans at the Estes Stadium watch party took out wireless phones and started making calls and firing off text messages - some voting on their own devices and others on phones borrowed from AT&T, which supplied about 50 display units and representatives to teach multiple "power texting".
Power texting allows senders the ability to send multiple (10 or more) text messages at the press of a single button.
The show broadcasts an on-screen statement at the end of each episode warning that blocks of votes cast using "technical enhancements" that unfairly influence the outcome of voting can be thrown out. And the show regularly states that text voting is open only to AT&T subscribers and is subject to normal rates.