AT LEAST 29 complaints have now been lodged with the broadcasting regulator over a controversial quiz show being run by TV3.
The programme, PlayTV, will now be the subject of an inquiry by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission (BCC), the Sunday Tribune has learned.
Complaints have included suggestions that some of the puzzles on the show are impossible to solve and that on certain evenings, just a single person out of thousands who called had actually won a prize.
The audience is invited to call in at a cost
of €1.50 and given a chance to answer a question live on air. However, getting through to the studio is very difficult and only a handful of callers are given an opportunity to answer a question.
The 29 complaints received by the BCC have been referred to TV3, which has been asked to give a detailed response to each.
Anne O'Brien of the BCC said: "There are currently 29 complaints registered concerning PlayTV. There are a further four pending."
In one complaint, a viewer said that the show was not a "fair game" and could be seen to "exploit… people who may be desperate for the prize on offer".
The response sent by TV3's director of government regulatory and legal affairs David McMunn rejects the complaint out of hand.
It says: "The service clearly states that there is a charge per call and given the time of the programme the service is clearly aimed at an adult audience.
"It must be stressed that an individual can only incur charges if they ring the service. Further, the limitations on the number of phone calls that have been imposed are some of the strictest in Europe."
TV3 said it regretted that any audience member felt the need to make a complaint and said it was its "intention to provide entertainment to its viewers with this service, not to give rise to concerns on their behalf".
A spokeswoman said: "We are very happy with the way the service is run."
The television show, which offers cash prizes of up to €5,000, was also under investigation by the premium telephone regulator RegTel.
However, it is understood it has found that TV3 had no case to answer and that the quiz show was being operated within all regulations.
Viewers are allowed to call up to 50 times each night before their number is blocked, meaning they can run up a bill of €75 each evening.
TV3 has put in place a system whereby only 300 calls can be made each month from a single number, capping the total amount that can be spent at €450.
However, critics have said that there is no way of monitoring whether the same person is using both a mobile phone and a landline, meaning their monthly bill could double.