Sports Personality of the Year 2016: Vote FAQs

Contenders images
BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2016
Date: Sunday, 18 December. Venue: Genting Arena, Birmingham. Time: 18:40-21:00 GMT. Coverage: BBC One, Radio 5 live, BBC Sport website

You can cast your vote on the night for BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2016 by phone or for free online.

Voting will open during the show, with phone numbers shown on screen during the broadcast and made available online.

Online votes are capped at one per registered account. Here are some frequently asked questions about this process.

Why do I have to sign in again?

Since Sports Personality of the Year 2015, we've made a few upgrades to your BBC account. Before you can cast your all-important vote online this year, we need you to sign back in and fill in a bit more info.

It only takes a minute, and it'll give you more ways to get the best out of the BBC but make sure you allow time to do this before the vote opens as you don't have long to vote!

What if I can't remember the password to my BBC account?

If you can't remember your password, you'll need to reset it. You can find out how to do that here.

Why is the online vote not displaying properly?

If the vote is not displaying correctly on your device then please try refreshing the page or using a different browser.

If you are using an ad-blocker then this may inhibit your ability to cast your vote. If you disable the blocker and refresh the page then you should be able to cast your vote.

I'm getting an error that someone's already using my email

You're trying to register for an account that already exists. If this is your email, try signing in here. If you've forgotten your password, you can reset it here.

What new information do I need to give?

First, we need to know if you are under 18, or 18 or over.

If you are under 18, we then ask you to provide your birthday. We also ask anyone aged 13 or over to provide an email address. Your email address lets you reset your password if you forget it. And it means we can get in touch if we need to tell you about something new, like a change to our terms of use.

If you are over 18, we might ask you for a stronger password if we think your password is not strong enough. We will also ask you to provide your full postcode, and if you want personalised BBC newsletters.

If you previously used to sign in with a username, you'll need to use your email address from now on if you are over 13.

And if you previously used to sign in with Facebook or Google+, you won't be able to any more. You will need to provide a bit more info before you can sign in, which you can find here.

Why are you asking for my postcode?

We use your UK home postcode to give you relevant local info online and in any email newsletters you sign up for. Find out more about how we use your data here.

What if I don't want to register now or give additional information?

If you decide not to proceed with registering your BBC account then unfortunately you will not be able to cast your vote online. However, you can still always vote via phone. Just watch the show for the phone numbers or visit the Sports Personality of the Year website ( while the vote is open for the phone vote information.

Why is it saying my email address is invalid when I used this to vote last year?

This may be because you are trying to register a new account rather than sign in with your existing one. If you voted last year then you should already have a BBC account so make sure you sign in here rather than register it as a new account.

Why when I click on sign in am I not taken to the sign in page?

If you click on sign in and you are already signed in to your BBC account then you will be directed to the BBC homepage or you will remain on the same page. That means you are ready to cast your vote once it opens here.

I'm having another problem signing into my account that's not covered here - where can I go for help?

We have a separate page that can answer your questions around signing in to your BBC account, and also put you in touch with someone if you are unable to find the answer you need. Visit here.

I don't have an existing BBC account, and need to register for one so I can vote, but need help. Where can I go?

We have a separate page that can answer your questions around registering for a new BBC account, and also put you in touch with someone if you are unable to find the answer you need. Visit here.

If you have not used your account in a while and have forgotten your password you will need to click on the 'forgotten password' link before the show to allow enough time for a new password to be sent through. This will only be possible if you provided a valid email address when registering.

What exactly is a BBC account?

If you have any questions about your BBC account you can find some FAQs here which might help.

Why are you asking for my age?

Some parts of the BBC are only meant for certain ages. We need to know how old you are to make sure you can use the parts that are meant for you. Find out more about how we use your data here.

Why are you asking if I want personalised BBC newsletters?

You can decide if you want to receive occasional emails to tell you about BBC programmes and services or not. It's completely up to you. We may personalise them based on your location and how you use the BBC online site, to help you get the most from the BBC. Find out more about the emails here. You can also unsubscribe at any time.

Can I vote using my smart phone or tablet?

You can vote using your mobile phone, tablet or your home computer. Online votes on different devices using the same BBC account details will count towards the maximum number of votes per account. For Sports Personality of the Year 2016 the maximum number of votes per account will be three per voting window.

How many times can I vote online?

Online votes are limited to one per registered user. You may have experienced being able to vote more than once, however only your first vote will have been counted.

Is there a cost to vote online?

No, you will not be charged to vote online by visiting during the live show. Please check your broadband or mobile contract to check the cost of using data services.

I am having problems voting online, what can I do?

If you're having trouble voting online, you could try any of the following:

  • Keep refreshing the page
  • Clear your cookies and browser history
  • Update your browser version
  • Try a different browser
  • Update your device's operating system
  • Try a different device if you have one, such as your tablet, mobile or laptop

If you're still having trouble voting online then don't forget you can always vote by phone to make sure you cast your all-important vote. The numbers will be displayed in the show and online while the vote is open.

Voting by phone

Why have I been charged more than 15p for my vote?

If your call was to the long (11-digit) number from either your landline or mobile phone, you will have been charged 15p plus your network's access charge for voting. The access charge is set by your telephone service provider and can be found by calling them or visiting their website. More information about how these numbers work can be found at

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 until 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.

I was trying to call for (contender x) and got (contender y) instead

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 contender line. If you have a phone bill you can send us, we can check whether the number you called corresponds with the correct contender audio.

I have been trying to vote, but keep getting the engaged tone

Because the phone lines 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 exchanges and are something that the BBC cannot control. You can also opt to vote online via

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 telephone service provider about lifting the ban if you wish to vote on Sports Personality of the Year. You can also opt to vote online via

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. You can also opt to vote online via

Can one contender's number be constantly engaged and another contender's free?

Like all the big shows, Sports Personality of the Year uses a voting system where at least the first eight digits of the phone numbers are the same for all contenders, 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 to route calls to the voting system, it is impossible for calls for different contenders 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 contenders; there are no dedicated answering points for individual contenders.

This means that your chance of getting through to vote will never depend on the contender you wish to vote for.

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 Sports Personality of the Year voting) regardless of their UK mobile telephone service provider. The MSDC numbers are shorter than a normal telephone number, typically between five and seven digits long.

Until MSDCs were introduced, calling the premium rate '09' numbers from mobile phones resulted is a large variance in charges, dependent on the UK mobile telephone service provider. MSDCs removed that variance.

Following Ofcom changes to non-geographic telephone numbers, calls to the Sports Personality of the Year '09' numbers, whether from a landline or mobile, now cost the caller 15p plus the access charge set by the landline or mobile telephone service provider of the caller. The impact has reduced that variance in charges, made the differences public and resulted in that variance being across both landline and mobile calls.

The continued use of MSDCs for voting therefore has the advantage that callers from UK mobile phone networks should pay less to vote as no access charge is applied to these calls.

When voting from a UK 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.

How do I vote by MSDC?

Using your UK mobile phone, simply dial the short number shown on screen for your chosen contender, when the vote is open. There is one number allocated to each contender. 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. You can't text/SMS to the MSDC.

Why are you offering voting via MSDCs instead of text voting?

Text voting cannot be offered for Sports Personality of the Year 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 MSDCs other than busy tones at local exchange level with heavy traffic.

In addition, call attempts to MSDCs 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 telephone service provider, which may take some time to arrive or may not arrive at all.

How much will it cost to vote by MSDC?

Voting on Sports Personality of the Year 2106 via a MSDC from UK mobile networks will cost 15p per vote.

Will I be charged if I try to vote using a MSDC when the vote is closed?

No. Calls outside the vote open period and those made to any of Sports Personality of the Year numbers not currently in use will not be chargeable.

It is very unlikely that callers will be charged when calling a closed vote line as we use free of charge messaging during these times. If you have been charged, then notify your service provider.

Why can't I vote by MSDC from the Channel Islands and Isle of Man?

The Channel Islands and Isle of Man are covered by separate mobile telephone service providers who do not currently support voting by MSDCs. Viewers in these regions may still be able to vote by dialling the '09' numbers for SPOTY contenders from their landlines or mobiles at 15p plus their network's access charge per vote.

Can I call an MSDC from my landline?

No. MSDC voting is only available from mobile phones, if you try to call a MSDC 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 telephone service provider 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.

Can I vote by text message to the MSDCs?

No. Sports Personality of the Year voting 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.

Can I still call the '09' numbers from my mobile?

Yes. It will cost you 15p plus your mobile network's access charge per vote. The '09' voting numbers should preferably be called from your landline, if you have one. If using your mobile, you should call the MSDC if you can as it will be cheaper at 15p per vote. No access charge is applicable on the MSDCs. 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 MSDCs instead. If you remain on the line after the message then you will be able to vote for your chosen contender but your UK mobile telephone service provider will charge 15p plus the network's access charge per call.

Will I receive 'spam' / unwanted marketing texts if I vote by MSDC?

No, you should not receive any text messages from Sports Personality of the Year or any other organisation as a result of voting using the MSDCs. The BBC does not sell on nor, except if required to do so for legal reasons, supply mobile telephone numbers to any third party. 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 Phone-paid Services Authority, the premium services regulator on 0300 30 300 30 (standard geographic charges from landlines and mobiles will apply) between 10am and 4pm Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays) or via to report this.

Who can I contact if I need assistance / have further questions?

BBC Helpline: 0370 010 0222 (standard geographic charges from landlines and mobiles will apply).

Why can't I call the MSDC number from my mobile?

There are a small number of UK mobile phone users who are unable to call MSDCs - you should check with your mobile telephone service provider to see if you can lift the calling bar or simply vote by calling the '09' voting numbers using a landline.

Why can't I call the MSDC number from my 'Voice over IP' (VOIP) connection?

Not all UK telephone service providers, 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 telephone service providers and so will almost certainly not be supported by the fixed line and VoIP telephone service providers.

Can I vote via social networking?


Will my votes for (contender x) only be counted from one entry method - eg if I vote for the same contender from my landline, my mobile and online?

No, all votes will be counted from every entry method - but remember that online votes are limited to one per BBC account.

Why can't I vote by MSDC from outside the UK?

The MSDCs are provided by the UK mobile telephone service providers and are only accessible via these operators. It is also unlikely that calls can be made to MSDCs from UK mobiles when these are outside of the UK, as this would be subject to mobile telephone service providers' international roaming arrangements with foreign telephone service providers.

Does the BBC receive any revenue from the calls?

No. The BBC does not receive any revenue. Revenue from the calls (if any) goes to charity.

Is the vote being independently verified?


How do I find the terms and conditions?

They are here.

Throughout these FAQs "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.