So, back in December the news broke that Derek Mooney was leaving his mid-afternoon show on RTÉ Radio One. Since then, Ireland’s cultural commentators have been breathless in following the dominio effect this has caused with Ray D’Arcy leaving Today FM to replace him and Anton Savage, in turn, getting D’Arcy’s old job.
Personally, I’m not too bothered about all this ‘deckchairs on the Titanic’ shuffling of Ireland’s broadcasting cards. Mooney isn’t actually leaving RTÉ. He will now be given free reign in his field of choice: nature programming. So, whilst the show he fronted for the past eight years is gone, he is not.
Gone with it too is a feature which daily raised my ire: Mooney’s Money. Each day listeners were invited to take their chance and see if they could win “€1,000 of Mooney’s Money”. The annoying thing for me was that this game purported to be a quiz. To take part, the listener simply had to call a premium rate number and answer the daily question. The thing was, the question was always appallingly easy. Examples come to mind such as “Who is the President of Ireland?” and “Kerry is located in which province?” Even better, they generally gave you two options: one correct, one laughably wrong.
As of now, this compeition’s dedicated web page is still online and features a perfect example. Have a look here.
Others more knowledgeable in the law than I can explain the exact statute which must be obeyed but my layman’s knowledge tells me that whilst a lottery or raffle needs a specific licence, a game of skill does not. The ‘skill’ in this case was clearly the knowledge to answer the question but when the question is generally the equivalent of being asked to declare the colour of the sky on a cloudless day surely everyone gets it right? That being the case, if 100% of the hopeful participants in a game of skill pass ‘the test’ doesn’t that mean that the skill level is set too low?
As a final thought, consider the daily prize of €1,000. The competition site linked to above informs players that calls would “cost €1.02 (incl VAT) and from a BT landline will cost GBP £1.02″. The best estimate I can find is that the broadcaster would received between 40 and 50 cent per entry. So that would mean that competition just needed somewhere in the region of 2,000 to 2,500 entries each day to break even. In 2013’s JNLR figures, the show had an average of 225,000 listeners.
This sham quiz was probably quite the golden goose for RTÉ. Let’s wait and see if the debut of the replacement show features a section called “D’Arcy’s Dough”…