Do the growing numbers of participants in live TV quiz shows know what they are letting themselves in for when they send in their answer? In its recent ‘Statement of Expectations’, premium rate line regulator ICSTIS lays down a marker for service operators.
Topic: Promotion marketing
When: January 2006
ICSTIS published "A Statement of expectations on call TV quiz services".
The statement focused on the increasingly popular phenomenon of live call TV quiz services where the primary function and content of the entire output on the channel is participation in competitions by viewers. Viewers are invited to call or text a premium rate number to give their answer (normally either by being connected to the presenter or via a call back). If viewers are not selected initially they are informed accordingly and have the opportunity to make repeat attempts.
The concern driving the publication of this Statement of expectations was worry as to whether participants were made as clear as they ought to be about the strings attached to their participating.
ICSTIS makes it clear in the Statement that as required by the ICSTIS Code, pricing information regarding the cost of the call should be shown on screen in easily legible, prominent, horizontal print and not require close examination. Also, if it crawls or scrolls it should never be off screen for more than 60 seconds.
Transparency as to charges for all calls
ICSTIS also expects pricing information on screen to make it clear that the charge applies to all calls, regardless of whether the viewer is successful in getting through.
The pricing information should also be spoken by a presenter or voiceover at regular intervals. The interval length is not prescribed by ICSTIS, but best practice would suggest between 5 and 15 minutes. Also the billing of every call to the service and pricing information in a basic format making clear to consumers that all calls are being charged, should be included in the message at the beginning of every call. An equivalent return text message should be sent to viewers who use premium SMS to participate.
Key conditions to be shown
What will not suffice, the Statement states, is contact information based on a website address alone. This must be complemented by any of the following: a helpline number, a PO Box address or a full address. In addition, key terms and conditions must be provided on screen periodically.
Key conditions would compromise cost per call/minute, regardless of getting through to the studio, any age limit, the quiz question, the rules specific to the quiz where applicable and details of any alternative free entry route if one is provided. Also, when offering cash prizes and as a precautionary measure, a warning that entrants must be 16 or over should appear on the screen at regular internals.
Furthermore, the use of clocks and other countdown triggers must be clearly explained and must not mislead consumers into making more calls than they otherwise might have done because they think that the competition is about to close.
The statement also reminds providers of call TV quiz services of the need to ensure that they comply with Ofcom's Broadcasting Code, for instance Rule 2.11, which states that competitions should be conducted fairly, prizes should be described accurately and rules should be clear and appropriately made known.
Why this matters:
Live call TV quiz shows are increasingly popular, but as ever there are operators who abuse the system. This ICSTIS Statement is timely and providers of these services should take careful note.