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Sinn Féin call for greater controls over premium rate phone competition operators

25 April, 2007

Sinn Féin West Belfast MLA Paul Maskey has called for more stringent controls for TV companies that operate premium rate phone competitions following the BBC Panorama programme that explored the recent scandals surrounding the use of such premium rate lines.

Mr Maskey said:

"Sinn Féin has raised the issues of the both the rise in internet gambling and TV companies operating premium rate phone competitions on several occasions in the past twelve months and highlighted the unseen damage that this is causing to many families and individuals.

"Monday nights BBC Panorama programme on the subject reinforced many of the concerns I had raised. It revealed that TV companies who operate these competitions could be raking in as much as £100 million pounds a year, which is a staggering amount of money. I am calling for more stringent checks on the TV stations and companies running these competitions.

"The growth in internet gambling has posed major difficulties for those with gambling addictions .Its now estimated that in Europe alone regular online gamblers area staking around £3.5bn a year, an average of £1,000 per person.

"The boom in dedicated satellite TV quiz and competition shows which operate on premium rate lines is also causing difficulties with people running up huge phone bills into hundreds of pounds .Its very worrying that in many cases this problem can remain hidden for some time before people seek help." ENDS

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