Psychic Readings Live
|Psychic Readings Live|
Psychic Readings Live screenshot with Countess Nadia Starella
Psychic Wayne Isaacs
Countess Nadia Starella
|Country of origin||Hungary|
|No. of series||1|
|No. of episodes||134 (as of 28 October 2012)|
|Running time||2 hours|
|Production company(s)||Eso TV|
|Original run||16 June 2012 – 3 December 2012|
|Related shows||Play TV|
Psychic Readings Live is a live, two-hour phone-in television programme first aired on Ireland's TV3 network at midnight from 16 June to 3 December 2012. Just over two years after TV3 removed Play TV from its schedule, the network began airing Psychic Readings Live in the programme's time slot. Newspaper reports compared the controversy generated by Psychic Readings Live to the scandal caused by Play TV: "It will remind TV3 of a past life".
Produced by Eso.tv, the programme invited viewers to dial a premium-rate telephone line costing €2.44 per minute. The line gave them a chance to communicate with a team of in-studio psychics who offered predictions of future events. Psychic Readings Live attracted criticism for the number of hoax calls from viewers and its use of seemingly-stock photographs of its psychics. Concerns were also expressed about the nature of some predictions, including one in which a woman was told her property would catch fire.
On 17 July 2012, the Irish Examiner reported that the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) had the programme "on their radar" following a number of complaints to TV3. Four complaints were upheld against the programme on 9 November 2012. The show was cancelled on 3 December 2012, with its final broadcast airing in that day's overnight slot.
The identities of the team of alleged off-screen clairvoyants were scrutinised after a blogger, Alan Rice, sifted through the programme's online images of its off-screen psychics and discovered that it was using stock photographs. His comments led to complaints of false advertising and inspired a lengthy discussion thread on the boards.ie internet forum, where users posted screenshots of some images. On 22 June, the website JOE.ie reported that the discussion board had 2,700 posts within six days of the programme's premiere.
A number of hoax callers (known as "trolls") contacted Psychic Readings Live, the first within days of the programme's launch. The trolls ask apparently-genuine questions, then tell the psychic they do not believe the reading or verbally abuse them. The Irish Times reported that a viewer phoned the show impersonating Will Smith’s character on the U.S. television series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, footage of which was posted on YouTube. Another concluded her call: “They don’t have Play TV anymore so I can’t try and lose my money, okay. I’ll try and save it...I’ll be in touch with BAI soon.”
Illusionist Keith Barry, expressing his disapproval of Psychic Readings Live, challenged one of its presenters (Psychic Wayne) to a magic dual. Declining the invitation, Psychic Wayne gave an equally lighthearted response; he claimed to be bowing to the greater force of Keith Barry, maintaining that such a battle (should it ever occur) would have irreparable consequences for the universe.
Conor Pope, consumer protection writer for The Irish Times, called Psychic Readings Live in July 2012 and asked Psychic Wayne about a concern that someone with whom he is connected in his work was stealing other people's money; he was promptly disconnected. Pope expressed his concerns about the programme in an article on 17 July: "The show appears to attract vulnerable and unhappy people looking in all the wrong places for answers, and then charges them staggering amounts of money for readings of questionable merit. There have been growing calls from bemused viewers for it to be axed. The growing controversy is not unlike the one which engulfed Play TV, an infomercial “quiz” night that TV3 eventually scrapped after complaints, fines and mountains of bad press."
In response to criticism TV3 sought to distance itself from Psychic Readings Live, issuing a statement on 26 June 2012 that it had no responsibility for the programme's content and describing it as an infomercial. Eso.tv described the show as “for entertainment purposes only”, although this was not emphasised by the presenters.
On 17 July 2012, the Irish Examiner reported that the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland was monitoring the programme after a number of complaints to TV3. Complaints about a show on air for less than 30 days are referred to the broadcaster concerned, and if a complainant is not satisfied with the broadcaster's response after that period they can then contact the BAI. On 17 July Psychic Readings Live reached the 30-day deadline, and the BAI said the show was "on their radar".
In the same Examiner article concerns were expressed by the charity Age Action Ireland, which feared that elderly and isolated people might be calling the programme for human contact and accruing large phone bills. Age Action Ireland urged that the cost of the calls be highlighted, and for relatives of those living alone to try and ease their feelings of isolation. On 2 October a complainant tweeted the BAI decision; The Journal.ie picked it up for an article.
In November, journalist Paul Melia spent €80 in a half-hour when researching an article for the Irish Independent. He spoke to three psychics—an on-air presenter named Flathan; privately, "a pleasant Scottish woman" named Marticia and "a young, attractive black woman" with "a filthy cough" named Luminous—who informed him that his wife would become insane, his dog ("a small, shaggy-haired dog, not the kind you would see or hear") would die and he would change jobs: "one to help pay the hefty phone bill, and hopefully it won't be the Irish Independent's paranormal correspondent", he concluded.
 Complaints and cancellation
On 11 September 2012, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland met to review complaints by individuals concerning Psychic Readings Live. Two complaints were upheld, since the BAI General Commercial Communications Code Section 8.10.4 states that claims pertaining to health, cures and/or healing are not permitted. The decisions were formalised in writing on 28 September, and Psychic Readings Live's BAI statement was broadcast on 5 October at 00.14 (immediately before the show).
On 9 November BAI upheld four viewer complaints concerning Psychic Readings Live, including two pregnancy predictions and one in which a woman was told that her flat would burn down. TV3 responded with the assertion that they were not responsible for the content of the programme; it was an infomercial, due to its broadcast time. However, the broadcaster subsequently said it would contact Eso.tv and take the show off air if Eso could not prove it complied with the broadcasting regulations. By 3 December, the BAI had upheld seven complaints against the programme; TV3 cancelled it, with the final broadcast that night. TV3 then replaced what it called the "commercial window" in which Psychic Readings Live had aired with regular programming.
- "What is 'Psychic Readings Live'?". Irish Independent (Independent News & Media). 22 November 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2012.
- Hegarty, Shane (30 June 2012). "Will TV3' s psychics stay on air? Only they can tell". The Irish Times (Irish Times Trust). Retrieved 30 June 2012.
- "Psychics.Eso.TV". Eso.tv. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
- Emmet Purcell (22 June 2012). "TV Review: London Calling provides inspiration, while Psychic Readings Live offers hilarity". JOE.ie. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
- "Is this flamboyant clairvoyant the future of late night television?". Irish Independent (Independent News and Media). 7 July 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
- "TV3 distances itself from Psychic Wayne TV broadcast". The Journal. 26 June 2012. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
- "Conor Pope contacts Psychic Wayne". Psychic Readings Live.
- Pope, Conor (17 July 2012). "Fortunes in the making". The Irish Times (The Irish Times Trust). Retrieved 17 July 2012.
- Kennedy, Jason (17 July 2012). "TV3 psychic show ‘on the radar’ of media watchdog over cost complaint". Irish Examiner (Thomas Crosbie Holdings). Retrieved 22 July 2012.
- Reilly, Gavan (2 October 2012). "BAI upholds complaints against TV3 ‘psychic’ service". The Journal.ie. Retrieved 2 October 2012.
- Melia, Paul (22 November 2012). "Crazy wives and shaggy dog stories – my night with the TV psychics". Irish Independent (Independent News & Media). Retrieved 22 November 2012.
- Broadcasting Authority of Ireland: Broadcasting Complaints Decisions – October 2012 - Retrieved 15 October 2012
- BAI General Commercial Communications Code Retrieved 15 October 2012
- Pope, Connor (9 November 2012). "TV3's psychics breach code again". The Irish Times (The Irish Times Trust). Retrieved 15 November 2012.
- The Legends (22 November 2012). "What is 'Psychic Readings Live'?". Irish Independent (Independent News and Media). Retrieved 3 December 2012.
- Kennedy, Jason (3 December 2012). "Psychic Readings Live cancelled". The Irish Times (The Irish Times Trust). Retrieved 3 December 2012.
- Kennedy, Jason (4 December 2012). "TV3 replaces 'Psychic Readings Live'". The Irish Times (The Irish Times Trust). Retrieved 4 December 2012.