X Factor finalists were scouted for show

The X Factor’s credibility as a genuine talent show has been undermined by claims that half of this year’s finalists were scouted by researchers and persuaded to take part in the show.

The revelation will dent the image of The X Factor at a time when audience figures are falling and founder Simon Cowell has been looking for ways to revamp the format.

New rules have allowed acts with management deals to take part in the show. Judge Nicole Scherzinger defended the move, saying: "I think it's great that they've done that. It opens up the pool for wider talent."

Jahmene Douglas and Charlie of MK1 admitted to the BBC’s Newsbeat programme that they had been approached to take part in The X Factor, and that their record companies had encouraged them to attend the auditions. Kye Sones, Melanie Masson and Lucy Spraggan all had professional music careers before taking part in the contest.

In Spraggan’s case, she already had an album available from her website and iTunes. The album, Top Room At The Zoo, recorded in 2011, was removed from iTunes after her appearance on the show. "Not my call to make, get it while you can," she tweeted. "My album will be removed in the next 48 hours my friends. Thank you so much again."

Past X Factor winners have been signed to Cowell’s Syco organisation, but the loosening of the rules allows a situation where the winning artist may already have a deal in place and be able to avoid the Cowell machine. How the X Factor svengali would react to such a scenario remains to be seen.

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