Contestant Disqualified on “The Price is Right” Thumbnail

Contestant Disqualified on “The Price is Right”

The Price is Right had a big event on the 28th: the first disqualification in 243 shows according to Golden-Road.† Contestant Christopher Francis, a television producer from Tuscon, AZ, was disqualified from The Price is Right and lost his $2,500 in cash and prizes when it was found that the station he works for, KOLD, is a CBS station.† If you know anything about eligibility requirements, it’s that if you are connected closely with a certain network or station, you cannot appear on a game show by that network or station.† His episode has aired and he has been venting about it, as you can read here.

I’d love to know what this guy was thinking.† I’ve been working with GSN for a few years now.† I know that I cannot try out for anything GSN related because of this.† I knew this without even reading the requirements for shows.† Nor can I for most others.† It’s common sense.† He told them he works for CBS even.† This sentence in his post is what got to me:

“What weighs on me is how my honesty didn’t mean very much to the CBS brass.”

What this sentence said to me was “I told the truth and got no reward, that’s not fair.”† Honestly, my take on the situation is that he doesn’t deserve anything.† He wasn’t told by casting people and it wasn’t on the website that affiliate networks can’t be on the show, I’ll give him that.† It’s still common sense that if you work for a CBS network, you can’t appear on CBS shows.† I mean did he actually think he was going to get away with it?† He’s being very insisting on the fact that his station is not owned or controlled by CBS.† However, go to KOLD’s website and the logo for the site has the CBS logo right beside it.† That’s enough of a hint for me.† A lot of his points are trying to grasp at straws and defend himself when he has no defense.† I’m sorry, but he just should have known better.† There’s no way any smart and knowledgeable television producer would not know they were ineligible.† If he truly didn’t maybe we need some new television producers.† What do you all think of the situation?† Did CBS do the right, appropriate thing, or did Mr. Francis get screwed by the system?

Alex Davis

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has written 3437 articles on BuzzerBlog.

Alex Davis is an award winning writer and producer based out of Pittsburgh, PA, who works out of New York, Los Angeles, and London. Alex is the head writer and editor for BuzzerBlog and is the president and head of development of 5Hole Productions, specializing in unscripted formats for television and internet play.

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27 responses to "Contestant Disqualified on “The Price is Right”"

  • Rob says:

    Ignorance is no excuse. And if he had any conscience about it, he had the opportunity to ask before the show. He didn’t, and it appears that he knew that if he did ask, he wouldn’t have gotten on stage.

    He knowingly took an eligible contestant’s once-in-a-lifetime chance to win on TPiR.

    I have no sympathy for him at all.

  • Alex,

    First, let me say I’m regular reader and have been for several months now. Thanks for all your inside information!

    I will admit I was naive. I will not admit stupid ignorance or any of the labels I’m currently being tarred and feathered with now on the various game show boards. Yes, I know eligbility requirements often exclude employees who work at stations carrying a show. But I honestly did not read on the website or hear anything about people who work at affiliates when the CBS pages read the eligibility requirements — and they didn’t mention “affiliates” two other times when I went on the show in 2005 and 2004. Once might be an oversight, twice may be coincidence, but three times leads me to believe I’ve found a loophole.

    KOLD-TV IS NOT A SUBSIDIARY of CBS. We have a programming contract with them. We run and promote CBS shows but do not produce them. That’s all. I can understand the argument one person has offered of my appearance being construed as an underhanded way to promote TPIR, but I assure you, that didn’t happen. I went on the show as a fan whose watched since childhood.

    About my “honesty” not “meaning very much” to CBS: if I had kept this under my hat (which I very well could have for such a low amount of winnings), and Standards And Practices found out — CBS would have come after me, after my station and I would’ve ended up unemployed. But I chose to be up front with CBS. They chose not to award me anything. That’s their right as a network, but I still reserve the right to suggest they could’ve donated the money to charity so at least my winnings would not have been in vain. And no, I didn’t think I was going to get away with it, which is why I came clean when the paperwork was presented to me clarifying things that should’ve been clarified up front.

    People I know out there are calling me ignorant, whiney, etc, etc. However, my news director, my general manager, and my co-workers (who I love) have been nothing but supportive. They did not know in advance I was going to do this, and they have not pulled any strings with CBS in the aftermath — nor would I expect them to. I have not been reprimanded IN ANY WAY because of this.

    If my arguments grasp at straws with you and others, so be it. I know some people are never going to believe there wasn’t some conspiracy or rampant ignorance behind this. But those who know me know I’m not an ignorant fool — a person who likes to shout “Huzzah” maybe — but not a fool.

    And my newscast is the number one 10pm newscast in Tucson. I doubt my bosses would let a fool take reins of that.

    Your Humble Servant,
    Christopher Francis

  • Rob says:

    From your blog, Mr. Francis: “I will admit I was naive, and I didn’t want to ask lest I get disqualified in line. But I honestly felt I was interpreting the rules fairly.”

    You knew.

    Justify that to yourself, if you wish. But you knew there was a greater-than-zero chance you were ineligible and you said nothing.

    And someone didn’t get *their* moment Contestant’s Row because of that.

  • CarShark says:

    I’d have to say that the most interesting part of that whole story was learning that Price can substitute money in place of a prize. Does that mean that all “unplugged” items get substituted for cash, like the small prizes in the games? Too bad they don’t do that for the carousel horses, train sets, $4000 dinette sets, or any other of the more…eclectic of TPiR’s offerings.

  • RG says:

    De-lurking to throw in my $.02.

    I’m going to come down in the middle on this issue.

    Two years ago I went to a taping of TPIR. At the time I was working at a CBS affiliate. As the pages were reading the eligibility rules, there was absolutely nothing said about employees of CBS affiliates being ineligible. Now, during the interviews I was asked what I did for a living. I said I worked for a television station. I’m sure that sent up all sorts of red flags and they immediately crossed my name off the list.

    With that said, rules are rules, and obviously CBS must follow its rules even if they are not made clear to potential contestants. Unfortunately, this means Christopher cannot receive his prizes. But the good news is, Christopher can try again in 10 years to get on the show as long as he’s not working for a CBS station then.

    By the way, it now says this on the CBS website: “Anyone who is employed by CBS Corporation, including any parent, subsidiary, or entity affiliated with CBS Corporation is not eligible.” I can’t help but wonder if this was recently changed because of what happened with Christopher.

  • DXSSI says:

    I’ve gotta side with Chris on this one. I’ve never worked in television or appeared on a game show, so outside of this story I have no real idea about the specific restrictions. I know in just about every kind of contest there is, employees of the company and employees of any sponsors (and immediate family to those employees) are always disqualified.

    But an affiliate of a company is not the company. And it sounds to me like no one at the show had any idea about the restrictions either, because when Chris specifically asked about it, all the responses he got were along the lines of “I’ll get back to you.” Right away, as soon as Chris said “I’m a television news producer,” the response should have been “Oh, which network? Is it affiliated with CBS?” Actually, the latter question shouldn’t have even been necessary. If Chris answered “KOLD-TV” the TPIR staff should’ve pulled out “The Big Book of CBS Affiliate Networks” and looked it up, then told Chris he was ineligible but welcome to stay and watch the show. Obviously none of that happened. If the people who actually worked for CBS on the set of The Price is Right were not aware of any of this, why should Chris have been any better educated on the matter?

    To me, a valid analogy would be if General Mills had a contest you could enter whenever you buy a box of Cheerios. Of course it would have the usual disclaimer that employees of General Mills can’t win. But, after finding out that the winner worked for a grocery store which distributed Cheerios, they unburied a subset of the rules that essentially stated that anyone profiting off of General Mills is, in a roundabout way, an employee. Thus, the grocery store worker winner would be ruled ineligible.

    Obviously, CBS realized that their language as regards contest eligibility was not clear enough (on the website), because otherwise they wouldn’t have changed it. And based on that, I’d think Chris would have a case if he decided to sue. However it sounds like he is being wise about it; attempting to pursue that $2500 would cause untold amounts of bad publicity for his network and would jeopardize his career, so of course it’s not worth it.

    I also think anyone giving Chris **** over “stealing a contestant’s row spot from an eligible contestant” is simply being a jerk. How does it make you feel when an item up for bids costs 699 (unbeknownst to contestants’ row), the first three contestants bid 600, 800 & 1000 respectively, and the last player bids 750? If that contestant would have bid 601, they would have had better odds and, in this scenario, would have won. Are you angry because a more knowledgeable Price contestant didn’t get his chance?

    How does it make you feel when somebody goes on the Price is Right and gets to play Plinko, but guesses all of the item prices wrong, only gets to play with a single Plinko chip and only wins $100? Are you irate that a more qualified contestant lost their potential opportunity at $50000?

    In the end I can’t disagree with CBS’ final decision to not award Chris the money; rules are rules even if no one knew them. And I don’t disagree with the rule itself, it just needed to be stated clearer and known by the staff whose job it is to evaluate contestant eligibility. Chris should not have been selected to appear on stage. But the situation was mishandled from the beginning, and he was selected, despite his giving them more than enough information to work from.

    And now, CBS appears to be skirting the issue that they really have no right to keep that money. If the fact that other potential contestants were “screwed” out of an opportunity must be bemoaned, then let CBS have a random drawing among the eligible audience members from that day and award one of them the $2500. Or, do what every other game show does and offer one (or all) of them the opportunity to come out to see the show again, on CBS’ dime. If neither of these are options, then donate the $2500 to a charity.

  • Scott says:

    I was in the contestant pool for Weakest Link and at the tryout, there was a formal questionnaire to fill out first. One of the questions was whether I or any member of my family (!) worked for NBC or its affiliate stations, NBC Enterprises, etc. etc. Very detailed list of things that disqualified you. I already knew about these sorts of rules generally, but the simple fact is that the only reason someone is “ineligible” is because of the rules set forth by the network and/or production company. To be enforceable, they must be communicated to contestants, I would argue, before the show is taped and the contestant appears.

    My understanding is that the contestants on TPIR are pre-selected, and they know that sometime during the show they will be on Contestants’ Row. It is not as if contestants are secretly selected and have no idea they will be on-air, so cannot be adequately screened for eligibility. This gives the production staff ample opportunity to pre-screen those who are selected, have them sign forms, etc. If TPIR does not do this, then they absolutely should.

    If CBS has changed their website, that’s evidence enough to me that Mr. Francis met the eligibility requirements as communicated to him in advance of the show. CBS and Fremantle have legal staffs who certainly can devise a form that makes the contestant affirm that they do not violate certain eligibility requirements stated therein. If they have not, then they should.

    What if Mr. Francis had won $10,000 on the wheel or $50,000 in Plinko, or a double showcase win over six figures. You can bet the stakes and rhetoric would be far higher and louder. CBS and Fremantle shoud learn from this, but moreover, should do the right thing and donate the winnings to a charity of Mr. Francis’ choice (among options presented by the network), if they will not reverse course and cut him a check. And they should invite him back on once he meets the “eligibility requirements.”

    I am amazed at the vitriol aimed at Mr. Francis on this board…since when do we in the community get so high-and-mighty about things such as this, assailing a contestant like this. He has a legitimate gripe, unless CBS/Fremantle can produce some paperwork. Mr. Francis is no Charles Van Doren, and he should not be treated as such. This business about “robbing another contestant of the chance to appear” is over-the-top.

  • Nikolai says:

    How could this have happened? He knew what he was doing, so why did he go? I hear that back in the early days of the program in 1972 that there was a daytime episode that supposedly didn’t air because a winning contestant was related to a cameraman. I just don’t get it at all.

  • Marc Power says:

    I agree this was stupid of him. when deal or no deal Canada ran I didn’t apply because Rogers was the main sponsor and I worked (at the time) for a local TV station owned by Rogers. albeit I was being paid casual labor and only working Sunday nights making about $300 a month and I might have gotten away with it but I didn’t take the chance.

  • Marc Power says:

    Just read his page (should of before, but meh. coulda shoulda woulda) I kinda agree with him that it should have been clarified. At the same time, the smart thing to do would have been to call a customer service number or something and check with them. if they say no problem. he should get his winnings. Which is how I feel here too but he should have known there might be a problem. If he took it to court he’d probably get some of it. Since there was doubt. If I were the judge in that case, I’d award him $1,000 plus $100 for expenses.

  • Pierre kelly says:

    Even if you work for a CW-owned station or a cable network like ESPN, you can’t get on the show. What he did was wrong and small claims court is the thing if he can tell it to the judge. If you’re a producer, do one thing: Ignore it. Writing to request for, or going online to get tickets doesn’t do justice.

  • Intelligentfan777 says:

    243 shows ago, there was a woman who was a previous contestant on the show, she got disqualified as well, no sympathy for HER either. For the record she had to forfeit her stash of prizes she got from the Temptation game.

    But I have to say it’s a bit alarming because you think this kind of thing would never happen. I hope this was just an aberration.

  • Andrew Budny says:

    I don’t think that it was fair for him to give up all his prizes because he worked for a CBS Affliate. If it was mentioned in the rules that a person or family member who works for a CBS affliate, it should have been mentioned durring the contestant interviews. What CBS did was wrong. They should have gave his prizes to charity. End Of Story!!!!!!!

  • The Great Butler says:

    It’s over the top except for the fact that…….someone else DID lose their shot at being on the show because an ineligible contestant was allowed through. Someone else would be in his spot if he wasn’t picked, it’s a stone cold fact.

  • DXSSI says:

    “Someone else would be in his spot if he wasnít picked, itís a stone cold fact.”

    This is true. But that’s CBS’ fault for the miscommunication, not Chris’.

  • Carlo Panno says:

    My feeling is that the guy used poor judgment by not disqualifying himself — just saying “No thanks” when they came around to talk to him could have done it — but not saying he works at a CBS affiliate up-front was a bad idea.

    I was on the editorial staff of “Jeopardy!” when an old girlfriend’s name turned up on a contestant list. I hadn’t even seen her in years, but I immediately talked to the contestant coordinator and we discussed it with the producer, who decided that she should be disqualified.

    he should have told the “Price Is Right” people, who could have gone to the producer or compliance people with this as soon as it came up.

    My two cents.


  • Rob says:

    “This is true. But thatís CBSí fault for the miscommunication, not Chrisí.”

    If he hadn’t said, in so many words, “I thought I might be disqualified so I kept my mouth shut”, I’d buy that.

    But be realistic… wouldn’t it make sense to simply say at the screening, “hey, I work for the CBS affiliate in Tucson, would that be a problem”? Anyone who’s been a game show fan – or in television – for more than 30 seconds knows there are strict eligibility rules.

    Instead of asking the question and then sitting back and enjoying the taping, he said nothing knowing that this was a possibility.

    There’s something to be said for being the better person (and being ethical), but I guess this is the 21st century and that concept is becoming *so* 20th-century… :)

  • Tyler says:

    Mr. Francis,
    I find no sympathy for your actions, and will not defend you. It doesn’t matter the difference between affiliation and whatnot, doesn’t matter whether CBS owns you or doesn’t, it’s the fact that you all are airing their produced program, and use the CBS logo on the website, in newscasts, etc. Plain and simple you took some one else’s opportunity, who may have traveled a long distance to be on that show, because of what seems to be your selfishness, I know that if I worked for an NBC station, I wouldn’t bother applying for American Gladiators, 1 vs 100, DoND, etc. Plain and simple. It would’ve been cool had they’ve donated the money to charity, but most likely what they did, was “recycled” some of the things (the money especially).

    Your only “souvenirs” are the TPiR Contestant Name Tag and video embarrassment, with Rich Fields saying contestant 4 was disqualified , be greatful you didn’t make it to the Showcases. Man… what nerve.

  • DXSSI says:

    “If he hadnít said, in so many words, ‘I thought I might be disqualified so I kept my mouth shut’, Iíd buy that.”

    I can respect that you feel that way. If I were in a similar situation, I’m the kind of person who probably would have asked.

    But the flip side to all of this is that the CBS representatives clearly didn’t know their own restrictions. If I were in Chris’ position, I would also be worried that raising my concern *might* disqualify me unfairly. Suppose that the rules had been different, and employees of affiliates were allowed. However, whoever was doing contestant selection wasn’t clear on the differences between a “subsidiary” and an “affiliate”, and disqualified Chris just to be safe?

    Based on the way Chris wrote about his experience, I think this is what was on his mind that day. And given how the actual situation was handled, I’d say that wouldn’t have been an unreasonable concern. And I’m also a trusting person, so in the same situation I would have had nothing but the utmost faith in a production company who has been producing a show for 30-odd years to have clear, concise rules about everything and to have clearly communicated those rules to the staff responsible for following them.

    I don’t think the mistake on his end makes him a bad person, just a person who made a mistake. And I would still fault CBS completely for any loss, real or imaginary, experienced by any would-be contestant in attendance that day. Especially since they have made zero attempts, from the looks of things, to make any kind of restitution.

  • Daniel says:

    Here is my opinion –

    Chris read the rules on-line and originally it did not include CBS affiliates. And when the pages went over the rules, again affiliates did not come up. When he signed the paperwork when he won the prizes, CBS affiliates DID APPEAR! He pointed that out to the production staff.

    In the end, he did not get the prizes because he work for a station that was affiliated with CBS. KOLD is owned by Raycom, but does carry programming for CBS.

    The show ended up closing a “LOOPHOLE” by adding affiliates on-line and when pages go over the rules. But, i think there maybe yet another loophole that some could use.

    Let me throw out a hypetherical (SP) and we will use Chris’s job as a TV news producer

    BUT INSTEAD of KOLD-TV in Tuscon, Arizona he worked for KBJR-TV an NBC Station in Duluth, Minnesota.

    Now, right off the bat, the rules state that he would be eligible to play since KBJR is affliated with NBC not CBS.

    But, hold on for one second. KBJR has a shared-services agreement (through Grantie Broadcasting) with KDLH which is a CBS Station. (For the record, KDLH is “owned” by Marla Broadcasting)

    So, would he still be ineligible because of this?

    So, here is the solution – If you are affiliated with a ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, MY Network TV, NBC or PBS station, you are not eligible to be a contestant on The Price is Right. That way, you would not run into something like this

  • Dearest Friends,

    The responses have been running about 50-50 for and against me, and now that the dust has settled, I can see the aftermath of this whole mess.

    1) I should have disclosed my relationship with a CBS affiliate up front, semantical loophole or not. It doesn’t matter to you that I disclosed it in the end and forfeited $2500 over what is arguably an honest difference of interpretation in the rules.

    2) I do not believe I deprived somebody of a chance to win or “took their spot.” What about the dozens of people who aren’t chosen every day? What about the people who win their way onto stage and lose because they don’t understand the pricing games or can’t play them very well? You can argue THEY robbed a better player of a chance. Do we need a contestant exam for “Price” now? I’m sure none of you want that.

    3) The level of vitriol directed at me over this has been astounding. People have taken a nit and blown it into a gadfly. The fashion police also have a warrant for my arrest because I wore shorts. One person on another message board who described himself as a former newsroom manager said, “with that outfit the guy had on, he looked more like he’d be a cameraman than middle-management! Tack-AY!” (Actually my legs look better in stockings and knee breeches… or a kilt… but that’s another story.)

    Let us keep some perspective. This is a GAME SHOW here, and just one show out of thousands of tapings. Passion is wonderful, but lets be passionate about the right kinds of things. War, the environment, diminishing liberties, rising violence, incivility and a host of other things are worth our passion, but I doubt a game show contestant — who ultimately got nothing whether he deserved it or not — is worth it.

    Your Friend And Humble Servant,
    Christopher Francis

  • The Great Butler says:

    >>>2) I do not believe I deprived somebody of a chance to win or ďtook their spot.Ē

    You shouldn’t have been there. It’s that simple. The conflict should’ve been given upfront and you should have been passed over. By knowing you were likely ineligible but allowing yourself to be picked anyway, you took up a place that an eligible (and by this point I’d dare to say more deserving) person should’ve gotten.

    This nonsense about “ooh, should people who don’t play well be disqualified?” is a smoke and mirrors game. It (TPIR) is a game. In games you have people who play well and people who do not. If you only have people who play well and block those who do not, it is no longer a game, it is scripted. Surely any game show fan can take that away from a short study of the 50s quiz show scandals, where only “popular” players were allowed to win.

    I echo two above sentiments: one, CBS ought to randomly select, say, five names and bring them back for another shot on their dime, and two, you did win a prize—the dubious honor of being immortalized as “The fourth contestant was found to be ineligible.”

  • glenn says:

    Sorry, this is clear cut and shame on the produces for getting anywhere close. I was thrown out of a DoND line because my company produces a live event for NBC despite being an independent contractor that happens to have its show aired on NBC…I understood and walked like a man. I was also passed over for Stump the Schwab because we were FORMERLY an espn product (I work for a company that produces football games for live broadcast) but I laughed that off as more sour grapes than anything.

    This was a big screw up…and I thought it was longer than 234 episodes, the last one I remember was in 1999 when it was announced by rod that “contestant #2 was ruled ineligbile and did not recieve her prizes.” was almost certain that was an underage issue.

    Anyway while this is cut and dry, affiliates are NOT eligible, the bigger issue is does this signal a change from Bob to Drew on rules. Bob was always pretty loose on controversial incidents, siding with the contestant on production glitches, early reveals and more than once the wrong person being called onto stage. I remember once where he awarded duplicate prizes to someone in the audience who had the same first and last name and the unintentended person ended up on contestants row. Maybe this means they’re tightening up.

  • lobster says:

    sidin’ with the chris on this one.. look, he told staffers up front .. you’d think that even by telling the producers at the interview table that he works in TV would have been a red flag or raised some sort of concern that anyone that works in TV MIGHT have some sort of link to CBS in one way or another.. yet they chose him, he went on, won some stuff.. christ, give the kid the cash.. semantics..

    (altho they should dock $100 for every gratuitous overusage of “huzzah”) :p

    When I was sequestered with two other people for 6 hours before going on Friend or Foe back in 2002, this dumbshit finally realizes he should alert the staffers that he used to be a drummer in a band whose guitarist worked for Sullivan Compliance a long time ago or something like that — instantly four people with headsets and clipboards rushed into the room, talked to him for a minute and escorted him out.. i mean.. as dumb as that guy was for even bringing it up, in that case his link to that person hardly was of significance .. they make it like he could have somehow been fed questions or something scandalous.. but i guess their line of thinking is, it’s better to err on the side of caution.. it’s anal, though :D


  • glenn says:

    Your logic makes sense, the producers f-d up to let him go anywhere near contestants row, they should give him the prizes since he did NOT lie or cover up his working for KOLD. If this was a miscall, early reveal or a Larsen type incident I would agree. However I believe incidents with affiliates is a LEGAL issue (not unlike underage contestants.) and as you know game shows are regulated under strict rules. The no affiliates rule im dates back to Charles Van Doren who was hired by NBC during his run on 21 and we all KNOW what happened there.

    I think CBS’ hands were tied although I do see the arguement for letting him keep the prizes because he went that far when people normally boot for much…MUCH less as per your FoF example and my expierience with Stump the Schwab.

  • Eric says:

    1. Every game show since the quiz show scandals has had a policy that you can’t be an employee of the network or their affiliates.
    2.If the first word in Occupation is Television and the next words weren’t Repairman and Salesman there should have been some red flags.
    I really don’t think he should get his money. However, I also think this was the result of either a lazy or over worked contestant coordinater.

  • Bobby says:

    The other point of that is the contestants who did not advance out of Contestants’ Row when he won are entitled to make a return appearance before the ten-year rule. As their appearance was compromised by an ineligible contestant, the only recourse is to allow the victimised players to appear again. They did not use their eligibility because of an infraction.

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