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29th April 2010
PhonepayPlus announces consultation for ‘stripped down’ regulatory code of practice
Proposals should have positive implications for the premium rate industry: AIME responds
PhonepayPlus (Pp+) the premium rate industry regulatory body today issued details of its next consultation process that, if ratified will see it introduce a simplified Code of Practice for the premium rate industry.
The consultation is welcomed by the leading premium rate industry trade body, The Association for Interactive Media & Entertainment (AIME), and should provide a more forward looking regulatory environment that will support business growth in the sector, currently worth £850m per annum.
- AIME has lobbied hard for a principles based code of practice in recent years as media convergence and continually evolving technology make it an increasingly challenging task for the PP+ Code of Practice to deliver its remit of fair and proportionate regulation.
- A principles based and outcomes focussed Code supported by flexible guidance should encourage a more productive and co-operative approach to premium rate regulation
- The proposed changes support AIME’s long held view that regulatory responsibility should be fairly and proportionately applied down the value chain with more emphasis on merchants’ services at the point of sale, where the services meet the consumer and where customer service, together with investment in quality premium products is key to building trust in premium rate services.
However, this fundamental change in approach needs three other factors to work, and each is material to the purpose and operation of a successful regulatory environment:
- Registration Scheme: AIME has been successful in its lobbying for an industry registration scheme for PRS operators, which will underpin the new Code. This will provide more transparency of companies involved in the industry and strengthen the regulatory framework
- Customer Care: AIME is continuing to work hard with industry partners and Pp+ to ensure a robust system is in place for customer enquiries regarding premium rate services. For example, it is essential that the Pp+ Number Checker (www.phonepayplus.org.uk/output/check-a-number.aspx), which allows consumers to check on services they have used, is effective in providing accurate customer care contact information, which will ensure that service enquiries are dealt with by the Merchant quickly and avoid unnecessary escalation to PP+ as complaints. Complaints to Pp+ have fallen dramatically in the last few months and enabling consumers to deal directly with merchants should continue this trend.
- Industry Support: This is a transformative time for the premium rate regulatory agency and an important time therefore for industry to work co-operatively with Pp+ to achieve a successful regulatory framework, that offers the necessary balance of consumer protection but also encourages innovation, investment and, ultimately, industry growth.
AIME will be holding working group meetings over the next month to address key aspects of the proposed Code and Registration Scheme. This will correspond with a member programme of regulatory compliance and best practice training sessions lined up to help improve industry standards.
AIME Board Chairman and CEO of Harvest Media Group, Ed Boddington, commented:
‘We welcome the consultation document released today including the provisions of AIME policies and initiatives which we have lobbied hard for in recent years. There are many new areas to be consulted on including registration and the new structure of the Code. It is important that industry, co-ordinated by AIME, responds in a comprehensive way to ensure that the right balance is struck between formal and self-regulation. AIME continues to work closely with Pp+ and has a pivotal role in ensuring that industry is united so that industry growth can be maintained.’