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.