Govt brings out new law to regulate interactive TV competitions

28 Jan 2010

Rogue broadcasters who scam the public through premium-rate services like Play TV could be liable for fines of up to €250,000 under a new law presented before the Dail yesterday by Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan TD.

The aim of the new law – Communications Regulation (Premium Rate Services and Electronic Communications Infrastructure) Bill 2009 – is to halt malpractice by broadcasters in premium-rate competitions.

Under the new law, TV3 for Play TV and RTÉ for competitions such as on the Late Late Show will come under the regulatory regime of ComReg. They will be obliged to have a licence to operate and must abide by the conditions of that licence.

Failure to comply will result in possible suspension or revocation of the licence and broadcasters can be fined up to €250,000.

Overcharging will be a separate offence and refunds will be allowed for under the legislation.

Speaking to the Seanad, Ryan said: “This Bill is tackling rogue operators who operate premium-rate phone lines or text-message services. I am pleased that the legislation will now apply to services that are broadcast on television, as well.

“This is a timely piece of legislation, which will protect consumers. Broadcasters must now be very careful in their operation of these services. The Government will not stand for its citizens being duped, defrauded or overcharged by corporate entities.”

The Bill, which is going through its final stages, is due to be signed into law in early February.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years