There’s a small wave of anger amonst a vocal minority of Newstalk 106 listeners at the recent introduction of premium text rates. The new system means that listeners wishing to contribute to the discussion must pay 30c for the privilege. The website has nothing about it (in fact the contacts page still features the old text number) but apparently Eamon Dunphy has been one of many critical voices so far.
Of course those that see this as a rip-off have to realise that it’s not really; there are still numerous ways of contacting the show, be it e-mail, telephone or (good luck to your interactive aspirations if it comes to this) post. That’s not to dismiss their point, though. Texting into a discussion is a handy way of throwing your hat in the ring, and where many aren’t within reach of an online computer most are in possession of a mobile phone. The question you now have to ask yourself is this; is voicing my point of view worth 30c? Maybe this, besides being a money spinner, is a handy way for Newstalk to cut the fat out of the texts they recieve.
For all of those cursing the actions of the station, keep in mind that you don’t have to text in, and if you and a substancial enough group decide not to then Newstalk will be forced to rethink their strategy pretty sharpish.
One interesting blog that could help ease the interaction-worries of listeners out there is this one; The Right Hook Blog. If it is genuine then this site was created with the sole intention of forming a talking point for those wishing to continue a specific debate long after the show has aired; a nice idea. Of course the design of the site would make anyone suspicious of its authenticity (was this ever mentioned on the show)? Couple that with the fact that the site was supposed to foster debate from the 22nd of March onwards and so far has failed to do that, and you can be sure that if this was indeed a genuine idea, it’s one that has been put on the back burner for whatever reason.
Perhaps Newstalk should give serious consideration to the development of forums, presenter blogs etc. in order to combat any image they may gain as un-interactive?