The network had charged viewers of primetime shows including The X Factor and I'm a Celebrity ... for casting premium-rate phone votes even when they stood no chance of being counted.
Such was the extent of the debacle that even Ant and Dec were hauled over the coals, being forced to apologise for the £6.5m audiences had wasted calling their programmes. It wasn't long before other broadcasters were drawn into the controversy, and public outcry reached fever pitch when Children's BBC stalwart Blue Peter admitted ignoring the majority of viewers who voted to name a kitten Cookie - calling it Socks instead.
The upshot was hefty fines handed out by broadcast regulator Ofcom and a ban on premium-rate phone, SMS and interactive TV voting.
Three years on, the cloud appears to be lifting, with ITV considering plans to reinstate mobile voting - albeit with a twist. As we reveal in our cover story, the UK's biggest commercial broadcaster is developing apps to allow viewers to buy voting credits at Apple's iTunes Store that they can then use to influence their favourite ITV shows.
This follows an amendment to Ofcom's broadcasting code that, for the first time, recognises the use of mobile apps as a legitimate means of charging audiences to interact with TV shows.
The regulatory change looks set to breathe new life into participation TV. By using smartphone functionality, broadcasters will be able to enhance their shows with the kind of slick and accountable paid-for interactivity that simply wasn't possible in the days of SMS voting. They will also be freed to generate much needed revenue from new direct-to-consumer initiatives.