Television watchdogs are keeping a watching brief on TV3’s Psychic Readings Live following complaints to the station.
A spokesperson for the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland confirmed the late-night psychic show was “on their radar”.
The show, which airs after Tonight with Vincent Browne, invites viewers to phone in for an on-air “psychic reading”, at a cost of €2.44 a minute. Most callers have to hold on the line for several minutes before they are brought on air, meaning they rack up a considerable telephone bill.
Initial complaints have been referred to TV3, and if the complainant is not happy with the station’s response after 30 days they can lodge a complaint to the BAI.
The BAI spokesperson said that because the show was first broadcast less than a month ago, if complaints were lodged, they would arrive in a few days.
When the controversy broke, TV3 issued a statement distancing itself from the show.
“The infomercial is produced by an independent third party [ESO.TV] and promotes a service which is licensed by Comreg,” said the statement. “The infomercial also meets all premium phoneline and broadcasting regulations. The content is commercial and not a TV3 programme or TV3 content.”
A spokesman for Age Action Ireland encouraged family members of vulnerable older people to monitor whether they were calling the premium rate phoneline just for human contact.
“Isolation of older people is a real problem,” said the spokesman.
“Some older people rely on their telephone for human contact. We encourage people to regularly contact their older relatives and include them in family occasions.
“If people are calling these psychic lines just to hear another human voice it’s a sad state of affairs.”
He said it was is vital that the cost of the calls was highlighted.
“It’s important that people know they are spending this kind of money on premium rate service.
“If people want to spend their money on this service and believe it to be true, then it is up to them.”
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