Broadcasters told by Ofcom to make phone-in charges simpler

Joe Hall
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The X Factor makes millions from phone votes alone. (Source: Getty)
Telecoms regulator Ofcom has forced TV companies to change how they advertise phone-in and mobile voting competitions - because, it says, they're currently too confusing.
The watchdog has changed the broadcasting code - the rules which govern TV and radio in the UK - to reflect how they can make pricing clearer.
Viewers desperate to put through their favourite X Factor contestant or cast a deciding vote in Sky Sports’ goal of the day competition will now be hit with two charges: a “service charge” set by the broadcaster and an “access charge” set by the phone company.
As a result, information displayed onscreen will shrink from a line such as:
“Calls cost xp from a BT landline. Other landlines may vary and calls from mobiles may cost considerably more.”
To a supposedly simpler:
“Calls cost xp plus your phone company’s access charge.”
The premium rate numbers used by broadcasters can generate up to £1 per minute. In its latest results, ITV recorded a £4m increase in “participation revenue” due to “higher income from competitions”. In 2009, the company earned £8m from phone votes alone.
Ofcom chief executive Sharon White commented on the ruling:
In July we’ll see the biggest changes to phone calls in over a decade, affecting 175m phone numbers.
The changes are important for people who enjoy interacting with their favourite shows, but also for everyone calling companies and organisations on 08, 09 and 118 numbers.

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