Working as Head of the Interactive Technical Advice and Contracts Unit, my team is tasked with ensuring that all BBC audience facing events (such as voting, competitions and awards) are run in a compliant manner. We also make sure we keep abreast of emerging technologies.
For the first time in UK broadcasting, I am very excited to say that we will be offering our audience the option to vote via Mobile Short Dial Codes (MSDC) and where better to launch a voice product than on the hottest new talent show, The Voice?
But, what are MSDCs? Well, also known as Voice Short Codes, MSDCs are short numbers, typically 5-7 digits, which can only be called from a mobile phone, but which also ensures that the caller is charged a guaranteed fixed price when casting their vote. The voting experience is exactly the same as if the caller was dialling an 090... long number, from the message they hear to the way in which their vote is counted, but by using MSDCs we are able to detail the exact price the consumer will be charged (which for The Voice will be 25p).
Traditionally '090...' Premium Rate numbers have been used for live voting which has left the mobile caller being charged, in some instances, up to three times that of a land line caller. The mass telephony voting platforms we use on our live programmes are run by the UK's fixed line operators (such as BT and Cable & Wireless). When a caller from a mobile wishes to cast a vote, the journey that call takes across to the fixed line provider has historically lead to the high charges incurred from a mobile. A mobile caller can still vote via the 090.. number, should they choose to, however a clever piece of device detection will be in place to identify mobile callers and will play a free message informing them of the lower cost route via the MSDC.
MSDCs are a joint initiative launched by the major UK mobile and fixed line operators; they have a commercial agreement in place that ensures price parity for the mobile caller. Cross-network MSDCs were made available by all operators in April 2012 and are strongly supported by the interactive broadcast industry.
A growing percentage of our audience are choosing to interact with voting shows via a mobile and with a belief that this growth will continue, Mobile Short Dial Codes will help us ensure the cost to the viewer is transparent and consistent, whatever their preferred route of contact is.
Claire McLaughlin is Head of the Interactive Technical Advice and Contracts Unit
The Voice will raise funding for one of the BBC's official charity, the BBC Performing Arts Fund. The charity supports the performing arts across the UK by awarding grants. This year it will be awarding up to Â£450,000 to community music groups and organsations as well as fellowships for individuals.