Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Show Me The Money RTE, Call 1517 71 71 81

With the recovery in the Irish economy the envy of many countries and a low inflation rate, the quite secretive 33% increase in the RTE 'Late Late Show' competition phone rate seems extreme. The telephone number itself also changed with the price inflating from €1.50 plus the add on of your network charge to €2.00 plus network charge. There was no notification of this sudden large increase. In 2010 the cost to the viewer was just €1.00.

There is little information available on the profitability from this service for the national state broadcaster and little appetite from other independent news channels to investigate the subject as most Irish TV channels use these premium rate telephone lines.

The multiple lines required to run such on air competitions referred to as Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) or Premium Rate Service is provided for RTE in the Republic of Ireland by Phonovation Limited. According to company office records they are based in Glasthule, County Dublin and founded in 1987 by Mark and Anne Marie Woods and listed with fellow director Gavin Carpenter.

According to '', Phonovation is Ireland's largest automated voice and business SMS provider. In 2014 it processed in excess of 80 million calls for a list of clients including RTE, VHI and Eircom. They have a presence in over 20 countries and in 2010 they signed a €7 million three year deal with UPC.

RTE website infomation
Each text entry costs €2.00 (incl VAT) or GBP £2.00. Calls from the eir network will cost €2.03 and from a BT landline will cost GBP £2.00. Calls from other networks and from mobiles will cost more.
Please note, the person named in the entry must be aged 18 years or older as at date of entry. This competition will close at 6.50pm, on 23rd December 2016. 
According to the price to the consumer for the Premium Rate Service is €2.03 but when you visit the RTE link attached to that Comreg page, the RTE website and their 'Guide to Interactive Services 'advises viewers and callers that calls cost €1.52. Although the station is able to update their on screen charges they have failed entirely to change their website.

And as of December 30th 2016 any viewers from Northern Ireland will find that €2 only equates to £1.70 so their increase in costs is even more significant. With RTE's Late Late Show appealing to an average of half a million viewers every week of their season if only 10% of these viewers use the premium rate service that's a €100,000 every week with RTE receiving the bulk of this revenue. A small percentage goes to the service providers such as Phonovation and Oxygen8. This does not include the money generated by the network on whom the caller makes the call with on screen prices based on a regular landline with mobile rates much higher.

Then when you visit the Phonovation website and click on the link that says 'Visit our Comreg website listing'
you are greeted by,

Phonovation is a well respected provider of Premium Services and have aided both TV, Radio and the charity sector but the issue is with RTE's transparency with how they charge their viewers for their services and how much money is being made. They have created employment at home and create an excellent profile abroad for an Irish company.

In 2006 a House of Commons committee investigated the sector especially in the UK with late night 'Call TV'. Here in Ireland new legislation was introduced by the then Minister for Communications Eamonn Ryan TD in 2010 but the area seems to by rather grey than black and white.

Useful Links

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Media Literacy Policy Launch

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) launched their media literacy policy at the upmarket Marker Hotel in the Grand Canal Dock on Tuesday December 6th 2016. Following an introduction from BAI chief Michael O'Keefe, the speakers were Stephanie Comey (BAI), Sheila DeCourcy (RTE), Emma Bowell (Framework Films Cork), Irena Cvetkovic (CRAOL), Simon Grehan ( and Martina Chapman. Their individual presentations were excellent and it is an important facet of communications as we continue onto the 21st century.

Some of my observations was that the launch perhaps should have been subtitled as 'The Death of State Censorship' as media literacy and our ability to get our information not just from the broadcast spectrum but online through which the Government results in the BAI have very little control over. A century ago radio became the first medium to have no borders, one state could not control another states broadcasts and what people listened to and it has take us in Ireland those one hundred years to figure out that may be a problem in our online age.

The launch concentrated on how news was delivered, interpreted and how social media and 'fake news' was impacting on the younger generation. Irish radio itself was conceived in sin during the 1916 Easter Rising when the rebels maintained their own radio station and our landscape today is sculpted by the rule and law breaking of the pirate era especially in the eighties, censorship and rules cannot be contained by borders and state control.

The BAI seems to be losing control of the Irish media and this sanitised presentation seems to portray that they may be living in a glasshouse and seemed needy in requiring a pat on the back for introducing a policy that they themselves said had been rolled out for sometime across Europe. The community radio sector seemed to have stolen the march on the BAI as they already have a media literacy programme rolled out across their various stations.

Perhaps if the BAI spent the money that was used on this lavish launch including lunch, on supporting the CRAOL initiatives they may have received more plaudits. And finally while they secured a room with seating for 100, it was only a third full and there was no representation from any of the independent commercial radio and television broadcasters. A brave face, an photo opportunity was the most the BAI gained from the occasion.

I suppose they have to be seen to be doing something to earn their salaries!!!!

Friday, 2 December 2016

Set Your Record Button

Next Thursday December 8th at 9pm 'The Wireless, A Century of Radio' airs on UTV Ireland featuring John Bowman, Diarmuid Ferriter and broadcast historian Eddie Bohan.