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August 23, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Launching its seventh season in the U.K. on Saturday, Simon Cowell’s The X Factor stirred up a hornets’ nest of controversy when it became apparent that the producers had used “autotune” technology on some of the contestants. The technology keeps a performer’s voice in perfect pitch, but it sometimes makes them sound eerily electronic. Its use on some of the contestants who were appearing in the audition rounds of the talent contest unleashed a flood of complaints that swamped the phone lines of ITV, the network that carries the hit show, and hundreds of protests on the show’s Facebook and Twitter sites. Numerous complainers insisted that the producers had enhanced the voices of those contestants that they wanted to showcase in later rounds. “It shocks me how a ‘singing competition’ can deceive its listeners in this way,” one person wrote on Facebook. Another viewer tweeted: “They have obviously picked a number of people that they want to get through.” However, producers of the show, while admitting that they used enhancements in post-production, insisted that the judges heard only the raw performances and made their decision based on those. Despite the controversy, Saturday’s telecast attracted 12.6 million viewers, the most ever for a season debut of Britain’s top-rated series. A U.S. version of The X Factor is due to premiere on Fox in 2011.