TV3 cancels 'PlayTV' contract

Fri, Mar 5, 2010, 00:00

TV3 has cancelled its contract to broadcast the controversial late-night game show PlayTV with immediate effect, blaming a fall-off in viewers in recent weeks.

The game show has been the subject of numerous complaints to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) since it first aired last May.

Earlier this week, the watchdog upheld three complaints about PlayTV. These followed 26 previous complaints that were upheld against the programme in just 10 months.

In January, the BAI found that it had engaged in practices that were “misleading and unfair”. The chairman of the authority’s compliance committee, Prof Chris Morash, described PlayTV as a matter of “ongoing concern”.

The BAI found there was a “lack of transparency about the rules of engagement, the presentation was misleading and the quiz was conducted unfairly”.  It also criticised as “inaccurate” the show’s suggestions that all viewers had to do was to ring a number to solve a puzzle to win a cash prize.

While accepting the BAI's findings, TV3 said there had been in excess of 2,000 winners and €600,000 given away in prizes over the course of the programme's 10-month run.

At the peak of its popularity, PlayTV was attracting about 16,000 viewers a night, with between 3,000 and 6,000 people calling in at a cost of €1.50 per call.

TV3 declined to say how much revenue the programme generated. In a statement, the broadcaster said the programme had provided “the revenue to prevent further job cuts at the low point of the recession”.

It said that while it had initially proved to be very popular with viewers, numbers had declined recently. 

TV3 said it would consider the introduction of new “interactive services” subject to demand. The broadcaster said commercial revenues from such ventures would be used "to fund the constantly increasing output of Irish programming, now accounting for over a third of TV3’s schedule.”

Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan described the decision to cancel PlayTV as “welcome news for the viewing public, who need to be able to trust broadcasters“.