Europe

Westport residents plagued by calls to X-rated Babestation

Westport, County Mayo Image copyright Education Images
Image caption Westport is a picturesque coastal town, popular with tourists and pilgrims who flock to the nearby Croagh Patrick mountain

Residents of a County Mayo town are being plagued by callers trying to reach X-rated TV channel Babestation.

People in Westport are up in arms over late-night landline calls intended for the UK-based station.

The mix-up is a result of Irish viewers calling the show's premium-rate numbers, which start with 098, without adding the international dialling code.

Regional Development Minister Michael Ring said his constituents were "aggravated and annoyed".

Mr Ring told the Sunday Independent: "They are getting these calls in the middle of night.

"One of those people has an elderly mother and family members all over the world and there could be a call at any time that they would have to take."

'Everything they could'

He said people in the town should not have to change their phone number because of the blunder.

The Fine Gael politician has referred the matter to a number of authorities, including the police, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) and ComReg, the Republic of Ireland's communications sector regulator.

The minister told the paper the police "did everything they could" but they had limited powers.

Image copyright Ingram Publishing
Image caption Several regulatory bodies are looking into the issue

BAI chief executive Michael O'Keeffe said it had contacted Babestation on behalf of one complainant and spoken to a representative about the issue.

"It is unfortunate that this issue is still continuing," he added.

"However, the BAI is not in a position to address the problem as it is not within our remit and he was advised at all times we were assisting him as a matter of courtesy."

A spokeswoman for ComReg said it had been in contact with its UK counterpart and it was trying to "identify a solution as soon as possible".

"ComReg advises anyone calling the UK from the Republic of Ireland should always use the prefix 00 44," she said.

Mr Ring has also contacted the Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA), the UK regulator for goods and services charged to a phone bill, such as directory enquiries and votes to TV talent shows.

A PSA spokesman said it was looking into the problem.