The X Factor: Own goal by Cole

As Cheryl Cole's decision to eject Gamu Nhengu from The X Factor creates a media storm, our poll reveals that the decision has harmed her reputation.

As the Scottish Government and Zimbabwean politicians wade into the row over The X Factor contestant Gamu Nhengu's immigration status, new figures show that nearly three out of four people believe Cheryl Cole made the wrong decision not to put her through to the live finals.

Debate has raged for the past week about why Cole prevented Gamu from going through, with protest groups springing up online and threats of boycotts to the show's voting lines.

Figures from PRWeek/One Poll's latest survey of 3,000 members of the UK public revealed that 25 per cent felt the decision had harmed Cole's personal reputation and 13 per cent said it had harmed the show's reputation. However, 40 per cent said it was just a publicity stunt that secured more media coverage.

In fact, 76 per cent of those asked felt The X Factor was more of a scripted ratings show than a genuine talent show. Forty-four per cent said the main aim of The X Factor was to secure high TV ratings, 39 per cent to make Simon Cowell money and only 17 per cent said it was to find a new star.

Forty-six per cent of the respondents believed Cowell was the individual whose reputation had benefited most from the show, followed by Cole with 26 per cent and Leona Lewis with 12 per cent.

But 43 per cent believed that one of Cole's acts would win The X Factor this year, compared with 28 per cent for Dannii Minogue, 23 per cent for Cowell and only six per cent for Louis Walsh. Despite these more cynical statistics, 47 per cent believed The X Factor was good for the music industry.

- Survey of 3,000 members of the public conducted by global research agency OnePoll

HOW I SEE IT - Rowan Adams, Account manager, House PR

So, three out of four people feel that The X Factor is a scripted ratings show. Is this really a problem? It is part of our Saturday night culture.

For years we have lapped up entertainment that is overtly packaged, so why the surprise now? From Opportunity Knocks to Stars In Their Eyes, the recipe for success has always remained the same. If there was real demand for fresh entertainment that broke away from the formulaic approach, The Culture Show would be made into a 24/7 news feed. We knowingly consume the content because it is giving us what we want.

Let's face it - the ratings speak for themselves. As for damaging the music industry, this argument has been knocking around since Pop Idol.

You might not like the music, but we need to wrap our arms around every opportunity to see music on TV, as there are very few platforms for 'new music' these days.

- What do you think is the main aim of The X Factor?

To find a new star 17%

To secure high TV ratings 44%

To make Simon Cowell money 39%

- Which judge do you think will win The X Factor with their act this year?

Cowell 23%

Minogue 28%

Walsh 6%

Cole 43%

- Talent vs ratings

76% of respondents said The X Factor was becoming more of a scripted ratings show than a genuine talent show

- Cheryl Cole's choices

73% did not support Cheryl Cole's decision to put Cher and Katie through at the expense of Gamu

- Music industry

53% did not believe The X Factor was good for the music industry

Publicity stunt

39.5% believed the decision to stop Gamu going through was a publicity stunt that secured more media coverage

Reputation

25% believed the decision harmed Cheryl Cole's personal reputation

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