McNulty: Partitionist policy barring Northerners from RTÉ competitions
Mr McNulty commented:
"In recent months RTÉ have changed their policy in relation to participation in competitions on their popular TV shows like the Sunday Game and The Late Late Show. I have been contacted by quite a number of constituents complaining about the issue and I raised their concerns with both RTÉ and the Department of Communities in Belfast.
"When I contacted the Director General of RTÉ to raise my concerns I was advised that the change in policy followed an internal review within RTÉ. The review centred around how regulations governing premium rate competitions are applied in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland. That RTÉ review found that Northern Ireland regulations require any prize competitions where there’s a cost for entering must include an element of skill.
"The regulations in the North are governed by the Department of Communities and having corresponded with the Permanent Secretary at the Department they have kicked back responsibility to RTÉ in Dublin. However, Tracy Meharg, the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Communities did point out in her response that a review into Gaming and Gambling legislation here commenced in 2012 and it is for an incoming Minister to decide the way forward.
"This is a shambles, and to be frank, it’s a partitionist policy which is preventing people from here participating in these competitions. RTÉ is our national broadcaster - people in Newry are every much as entitled to participate in competitions’ as people living in New Ross.
"There is no legal impediment preventing northern citizens participating in phone in competitions in the south. Programmes like the Late Late Show and the Sunday Game are part of every Irish family’s viewing habits, and to tell those of us who live in the north we cannot participate in competitions like the rest of the viewing public on this island is just mind boggling."