15 May 2009

Mobile Entertainment Forum response to Ofcom's Premium Rate Services Scope Review

Suhail Bhat, policy and initiatives director at MEF, has outlined his initial thoughts on the long awaited Premium Rate Services (PRS) Scope Review issued today by Ofcom:

"This follows the recent and thorough PhonepayPlus “Mobile Phone-Paid Services and their Marketing” consultation which imposed prior permission for certain mobile services. The Ofcom Scope Review is important to the industry as its aim is to ensure that the current PRS regulatory regime meets the needs of consumers, affords an appropriate level of consumer protection and also supports an innovative and quickly changing PRS industry. Ofcom states that there are currently gaps in the regulatory framework in the UK that need to be addressed and specifically targets areas of performance that need to be explored. These relate to:
  • The clarity of pricing in PRS and the impact on consumer trust and confidence
  • The mechanics of consumer redress in the PRS sector
  • The ability of the current regulatory regime to deal with new and emerging services
  • The effective application of a regulation across the PRS value chain
  • The feasibility of a service provider registration scheme and its benefits for regulation and
  • Any overlap between PpP role and that of other regulators and consumer protection bodies.
The Scope Review cannot be looked at in isolation of other regulatory developments within the UK or the EU. For example, we are working on a response to the recent Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) consultation on changes to the content of their Codes. CAP/BCAP is proposing to adopt aspects of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive which bring their Codes directly into conflict with the PpP Code. And the PpP Code itself is scheduled for a major overhaul from September 2009. There is also a proposed new regulator for audiovisual media services through the DCMS which again covers mobile content for video on demand services and advertising.

It is becoming harder to navigate the complex regulatory requirements set out by different regulators. MEF has produced clear guides to all these pieces of regulation for its members and will continue to work with regulators to ensure that the regulatory frameworks meet their objectives. However, at the same time, we hope that the Scope Review will serve as a comprehensive detailing of what needs to be done in the long term to promote our industry and adequately protect consumers - not just a review that is valid until different regulators issue any further consultations."

MEF will be discussing the implications of the Scope Review and other proposed changes in legislation on Tuesday 26th May at 4pm as part of its EMEA Regulatory Committee.

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