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Eircom under a cloud in '11811' weather advert storm

EIRCOM'S high-profile sponsorship of RTE's weather broadcasts could be under threat following a complaint by a telecoms expert.

Telecoms analyst, Peter Weigl, has made the complaint - saying several stations are in breach of the telecom regulator's rules by failing to broadcast tariffs for using the directory enquiries service.

He added that Eircom used its estimated ?600,000 sponsorship of weather bulletins to circumvent ComReg regulations on displaying its prices. And the decision could affect the legal status of the whole multi-million business of television and radio programme sponsorship.

The Broadcasting Complaints Commission confirmed it is investigating the complaint made about the well-known sponsorship and it is believed a decision will be made on Friday.

Eircom promotes is 11811 directory enquiries service on weather forecasts on RTE, TV3 and TG4. Former campaigns by Mr Weigl led to a ruling by the regulator, ComReg, last October that directory enquiry services should inform customers in all their advertisements about the full cost of their call-connect services.

"Many people - especially old people - who were using the service are being caught out because they do not know you have to pay more to be connected to the number you are looking for," said Mr Weigl who believed the charges should be outlined during the weather forecast broadcast.

"And when a friendly voice asks them if they would like to be connected, they just agree."

If the complaint is upheld, the broadcaster will have to pull or change the sponsorship but it could have further implications on the way TV and radio programmes are sponsored.

RTE's head of public affairs policy, Peter Feeney, said the national broadcaster will contest the complaint.

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