TV3 Psychics Live breaches code
Three complaints against TV3's Psychic Readings Live have been upheld by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) because presenters discussed the health concerns of callers and made unacceptable claims as to their psychic ability.
The authority also found the programme, which charges callers who ring in €2.44 a minute, was in breach of its code of conduct because the self-styled psychics failed to make it sufficiently clear that the programme was for entertainment purposes only.
The show has been broadcast on TV3 for two hours every night since June.
One person complained to the BAI because she felt callers were getting replies that could not be classed as entertainment. She cited two separate broadcasts.
The first was from a woman with breast cancer who was awaiting test results. She told the presenter that she hoped her results would be good to which she was told: "Is it good or is it bad? Well, em, I would say it’s good at this moment in time….”
Later the psychic said “….the third card I’ve pulled for you and it’s saying to you it will be a time of celebration, something for you to be very proud of. So good news; good things happening to you. We don’t need to keep our fingers and toes crossed because this is about you now being in the right space, so well done you.”
The same complainant also highlighted another broadcast in which a caller was told by a different psychic that she suffered from depression.
In response, TV3 said both broadcasts were clearly identified as entertainment services and said psychics could not control what questions were asked by the viewer.
It acknowledged that one psychic commented on test results but said she did not mention anything to do with cancer or health issues and it claimed the reference to depression was not a diagnosis but a reference to what the tarot card represented.
The BAI upheld both complaints. “While noting that the programme is live and that there is an element of uncertainty concerning what a caller may ask the presenter once put on-air, it was evident. . . that the presenter made no effort to end the call once it became clear that the question related to a health issue.”
It did did not agree with the broadcaster’s claim that the depression reference was an explanation of what the particular tarot card denoted and it said the “presenter was providing an individualised assessment of the personality of the caller based on the ‘power’ of the cards.”
Under the BAI’s code, psychic services are acceptable “only where the service is evidently for entertainment purposes and this is made clear in the communication” and presenters only “make claims that future events may be predicted as a matter of opinion”.
It noted that at points during the broadcasts the presenters made reference to their comments being their opinion and accepted there were on-screen strap-lines stating that the service was for entertainment purposes but said the broadcasts as a whole “conveyed the opposite message”.
Another complaint said the show preyed on the vulnerable by telling them to call for answers on a premium-rate number. This complainant described the show as “unethical and immoral”.
In response, TV3 said the programme met all regulatory requirements and was clearly identified as an entertainment service at all times.
The BAI accepted that during the broadcasts presenters made reference to their comments being their opinion and said their was an on-screen strap-line stating that the service was for entertainment purposes but said “the broadcast as a whole conveyed the message that the service was more than an entertainment service”.
Presenters, it said, “made consistent and repeated claims pertaining to the 'ability' of the psychics and fortune tellers to foretell future events. This included references by the presenters to the fortune teller and psychics as 'truly-gifted', having 'miraculous insights', being 'blessed by God' and being 'one of the few living [psychic] masters'.”
The BAI said these references, when taken as a whole, undermined and contradicted the strap-lines.