Ireland’s Eurovision telephone and SMS votes declared void

3 Jun 2003

Tens of thousands of Eurovision fans who voted for their favourite songs will not be charged for their calls after the telephone vote from Ireland was declared void.

Voters had a five-minute slot in which to register their selections after all of the songs had been performed. Because Ireland was third of the entries to disclose its voting, the phone lines could not be kept open for any longer than the five-minute slot.

Eircom, which operated the phone lines, had agreed with RTÉ that it would collate all of the votes within nine to 10 minutes of lines closing. While the company fulfilled its obligation, RTÉ decided to use a jury verdict rather than phone votes.

Spokeswomen for both RTÉ and Eircom said RTÉ’s Eurovision executive producer, Mr Colm O’Callaghan, had decided unless he had the results of the phone vote “in his hand” while Austria was still giving its vote, he would fall back on the jury vote.
While the telephone vote was ready by the time Ireland was asked for its vote, Mr O’Callaghan had already made the decision to use the jury vote. “It was a live show and you couldn’t really take a chance with something like this,” the RTÉ spokeswoman said.

Eircom said its decision not to charge voters for their calls was a goodwill gesture and should not be interpreted as an admission of failure on its part regarding its role in the voting. “The system and the technology on our part worked as it should have on the night,” a spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, all Meteor customers who voted in the Eurovision Song Contest Televote are to be refunded. Meteor confirmed that SMS text alerts had been sent to all voters informing them that their accounts will be credited.

“Eircom have said that they will not be charging their customers and they will not be passing on any costs to the mobile operators as the phone vote result was not used. We commend them on their action and we feel it is both right and fair that we should refund our customers,” says corporate affairs director, Andrew Kelly.

By Lisa Deeney