May 27, 2009 / 9:52 PM / in 8 years

AT&T denies employees swayed 'Idol' result

LOS ANGELES, May 27 (Reuters) - AT&T on Wednesday said some of its employees provided text messaging help at two parties in “American Idol” winner Kris Allen’s home state, but denied it could have swayed last week’s result in which Allen won the top-rated TV talent show.

“American Idol” television network Fox and the production companies behind the show also said they are “absolutely certain that the results of this competition are fair, accurate and verified.”

Last week, college student Allen of Arkansas defeated musical theater star Adam Lambert of California and was crowned the winner of “American Idol,” a competition that pits aspiring singers against each other.

Audiences members vote for the winner by text messaging or calling. Ahead of the finale, Lambert had been picked by many pundits to beat Allen and win a recording contract that goes with title “American Idol.”

AT&T, a corporate sponsor of the show, said a few of its employees attended two parties in Arkansas where locals watched the final competition between Allen and Lambert.

“Caught up in the enthusiasm of rooting for their hometown contestant, they brought a small number of demo (demonstration) phones with them and provided texting tutorials to those who were interested,” AT&T said.

“That said, it’s quite a leap to suggest that a few individuals could have impacted the final results,” AT&T said.

The phone company said that in the future, it will ensure its employees avoid taking sides in the competition.

But many of Lambert’s fans were upset at the revelation.

“It’s dodgy for AT&T to give out free phones and instruct people on how to power text,” one Lambert fan wrote at the Web site idolforums.com. “A corporate sponsor shouldn’t insert itself into the process that way.” (Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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