Northern Ireland news

RTÉ bar on northerners entering on-air competitions 'discriminatory' says SDLP's Justin McNulty

RTÉ said the decision followed a review of regulations in Republic and in Northern Ireland
Brendan Hughes

AN assembly member has claimed RTÉ barring northern viewers from premium-rate competitions is "discriminatory".

RTÉ recently restricted premium-rate competitions on its TV, radio and online services to residents in the Republic, citing differences in regulations north and south.

Programmes affected include The Late Late Show, which previously offered a Northern Ireland number as an option for phone-in competitions.

The SDLP's Justin McNulty branded it "infuriating" and said he has written to RTÉ's director general to raise his concerns.

"The Sunday Game and Late Late Show along with many other shows produced by RTÉ are part of the fabric of life here and to be excluded from participation in competitions I believe is discriminatory," the Newry and Armagh MLA said.

"This is not a trivial matter and it's not about encouraging people to engage in competitions. It's about all viewers across this island being treated on a fair and equitable basis."

An RTÉ spokesman said: "The change in RTÉ policy on premium-rate competitions reflects the outcome of a review examining how regulations governing these competitions in particular are applied in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland.

"Current regulations in Northern Ireland require that 'any prize competition' must have an element of skill and must be free; regulations in the Republic differ from this.

"Following this review, the decision to limit premium-rate competitions to residents in the Republic was taken by RTÉ to ensure it is not in breach of regulations in Northern Ireland. This decision applies to premium-rate competitions only."

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