Find out more about voting in the Eurovision Song Contest
Scott Mills explains about voting with mobile short codes.
1. What are Mobile Short Dial Codes (MSDCs)?
Mobile Short Dial Codes (MSDCs) are the numbers to call (not text) from UK mobile phones where callers are charged a guaranteed fixed price for the call (15p for Eurovision Song Contest UK voting) regardless of their UK mobile network provider. The MSDC numbers are shorter than a normal telephone number, typically between 5 and 7 digits long.
When calling premium rate ‘09’ numbers from mobiles, calls usually cost considerably more than if calling from a BT landline and the cost can vary significantly from mobile network to network. The use of MSDCs for voting therefore has the advantage that callers from UK mobile phone networks should pay the same charge to vote as callers from a BT landline – 15p for each vote for Eurovision Song Contest.
When voting from a mobile using a MSDC number you will hear a vote confirmation message in the same way you would when voting by calling a 09 premium rate number from a landline.
2. How do I vote by Mobile Short Dial Code?
Using your UK mobile phone, simply dial the short number shown on screen for your favourite act, when the vote is open. If you call while the vote is open you will hear a message confirming your vote. If you try to call when the vote is closed you will hear a closed non-chargeable message. The numbers allocated for each contestant will change each week. You can’t text/SMS to the Mobile Short Dial Code.
3. Why can we now vote by Mobile Short Dial Codes when we couldn’t before?
Mobile Short Dial Codes for use across all the major UK mobile network providers, and at a fixed price for a call, have only been available in the UK since April 2012.
4. Why don’t the UK Mobile Network Operators just charge 15p for calls from mobiles to ‘09’ numbers instead of introducing Mobile Short Dial Codes?
The UK mobile network operators decide the pricing for calling numbers via their networks, including 09 numbers. Viewers are advised to contact their UK mobile network operator if they require more information on their charging rates. Fixed pricing has been agreed for the MSDCs for the Eurovision Song Contest the rate of 15p per vote.
5. Why are you offering voting via Mobile Short Dial Codes instead of Text Voting?
Text voting cannot be included in the Eurovision Song Contest UK vote due to the relatively short periods in which the vote is open and during which the result needs to be provided and verified. There is the risk of potential delays within the mobile networks at busy times which could result in text votes not being received within the period the vote is open. With a phone call, if the exchange is busy you will hear an engaged tone, however with text/SMS you would not know if there is any late delivery of your vote (causing it to not be registered). There are no such potential network delays with Mobile Short Dial Codes other than busy tones at local exchange level with heavy traffic.
In addition, call attempts to Mobile Short Dial Codes outside of the vote open period, or to numbers no longer in use, are non-chargeable to callers, unlike text where charges may still apply.
The advantage of using telephone calls for voting rather than text voting is that the caller knows at the time of the call that their vote has been counted and also that they have been charged for their vote. They will also know from receiving an engaged tone if they did not get through and that they can then just press redial to try again. The same is not true of text voting as the texter has to wait for a confirmation message back from their mobile network operator which may take some time to arrive or which may not arrive at all.
6. Will I be charged if I try to vote using a MSDC when the vote is closed?
No. Calls outside the vote open period will not be chargeable.
7. Why can’t I vote by Mobile Short Dial Codes from the Channel Islands and Isle of Man?
The Channel Islands and Isle of Man are covered by separate mobile network operators who do not currently support voting by Mobile Short Dial Codes. Viewers in these regions may still be able to vote by dialling the 09 numbers for the Eurovision country of their choice from most landlines at a 15p rate or on their mobile phone incurring higher charges (in the same way as they may have voted in previous voting shows).
8. Can I call a Mobile Short Dial Code from my landline?
No. Mobile Short Dial Code voting is only available from mobile phones, if you try to call a Mobile Short Dial Code from your landline you will not be connected to the voting service and your vote will not be counted. In a very small number of cases, the landline network operator may route the call to a local destination as it may match a “local” telephone number which may result in a ‘wrong number’ call being made. Such calls would be chargeable if they are answered
9. Can I vote by text message to the Mobile Short Dial Codes?
No. The Eurovision Song Contest UK vote will be made using telephone call voting only as this offers the caller the benefits of knowing at the time that they place their vote that their vote has been counted and that they have been charged. This would not be true of text votes and so text voting will not be available when voting from the UK.
10. Can I still call the 09 numbers from my mobile?
Yes, but it is likely to cost you considerably more than 15p for the call. The 09 voting numbers should preferably only be called from your landline if you have one. If you decide to call the 09 voting numbers from your UK mobile phone then you will hear a non-chargeable message at the start of the call asking you to call the Mobile Short Dial Codes instead. If you remain on the line after the message then you will be able to vote for your chosen act but your UK mobile network operator will charge you at their chosen rate for calls to the 09 number which could be considerably more than the 15p per call cost advertised.
11. Will I receive ‘spam’ / unwanted marketing texts if I vote by Mobile Short Dial Code?
No, you should not receive any text messages from the Eurovision Song Contest or any other organisation as a result of voting using the MSDCs. The BBC does not supply or sell on mobile telephone numbers to any third party, except if required to do so for legal reasons. Text spamming is caused by companies sending unsolicited text messages to mobile telephone numbers. The BBC in no way supports this practice and takes great care to guard numbers from any unauthorised use. If you receive unwanted text messages from other companies that you are being charged for, you can contact PhonepayPlus, the premium services regulator on freephone 0800 500 212 between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays) or via www.phonepayplus.org.uk to report this.
12. Why can’t I call the MSDC number from my “Voice over IP” (VOIP) connection?
Not all UK telephone network operators, including some VOIP operators, allow voting by traditional premium rate 09 numbers. The new MSDC numbers are intended only for voting via the UK mobile network operators and so will almost certainly not be supported by the fixed line and VoIP network operators.
13. Why isn't the UK taking part in the new app vote ?
Voting by way of mobile apps is not something currently offered in any BBC show. This method of interactivity is relatively new in the UK market. A decision by BBC to offer this method of interactivity would follow research around the operating systems, handsets and online stores used by UK viewers. BBC will follow the Eurovision mobile app voting experience with interest. Also, this year, for the first time, we are offering mobile short codes as a way to vote from a UK mobile and incurring the same charge as most landlines, those avoiding different and higher call costs from mobiles. We are confident that this new method of interactivity – already tested in other BBC prime time live shows - will be popular with Eurovision Song Contest followers in the UK.
14. Why have I been charged outside the vote window?
We state clearly on screen and verbally when the voting period opens and closes and that callers should wait till that time before casting their vote. There is a small chance that if you called outside this time that another network other than BT would charge for this call. If you have been charged, then notify your service provider immediately.
15. I was trying to call for X country and got Y country
All voters are asked to dial carefully. The BBC has implemented a thorough testing schedule before each show to ensure correct audio is playing on the correct contestant line. If you have a phonebill you can send us, we can check whether the number you called corresponds with the correct contestant audio.
16. I have been trying to vote, but keep getting the engaged tone
Because the phonelines are very active throughout the UK when the vote window opens, some callers may experience the engaged tone - especially those in rural/remote areas. We recommend that you call back within a couple of minutes when the traffic through your local exchange would have subsided. Engaged tones are controlled at local telephone exchange and something that the BBC cannot control.
17. I called but received a dead tone
If after dialling the first four numbers of the premium rate number you heard a dead tone - then this means that you are premium rate barred and you should check with your network operator about lifting the ban if you wish to vote in the Eurovision Song Contest.
18. I tried voting but couldn’t get through, why?
Given the high volume of viewers and callers that some TV voting shows generate, it is possible for a very large number of people to pick up the phone simultaneously when the onscreen announcement is made. Sometimes this can cause some callers to get an engaged tone for short periods of time immediately after an onscreen announcement; however, any congestion tends to clear quite quickly.
19. Can one contestant’s number be constantly engaged and another contestant’s free?
Like all the big shows, the Eurovision Song Contest uses a voting system where at least the first eight digits of the phone numbers and the first 5 digits are the same for all contestants, with only the last few digits of the phone number changing depending on who you want to vote for.
As the telephone network only uses the first eight digits in a telephone number and first 5 digit for the number to route calls to the voting system, it is impossible for calls for different contestants to be treated differently.
Once calls reach the voting system they are answered in turn, on a first-come, first-served basis. Each answering point is instructed to accept votes for all contestants; there are no dedicated answering points for individual contestants/acts.
20. Does the BBC receive any revenue from the calls?
No. BBC does not receive any revenue.
Throughout these FAQ’s “UK Mobile Phones” means mobile phones provided in the UK under UK contracts by Vodafone, O2, Everything Everywhere (previously T Mobile and Orange), Virgin and ‘3’.