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 'Crunchbase.com', 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 servicecheck.comreg.ie 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 http://www.phonovation.com/about-us/ and click on the link that says 'Visit our Comreg website listing' http://www.comreg.ie/licensing_and_services/phonovation_ltd.551.837.1199.details.html
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.