MEF “not convinced” by Premium Rate Measures

Weve had a couple of reactions to telecoms regulator PhonepayPlus announcement of new measures governing the marketing and supply of premium rate content on mobile phones. The Mobile Entertainment Forum (MEF) says it welcomes the sentiment of the measures.
Our members support measures that promote transparency for consumers without hindering their access to and enjoyment of mobile services, says MEF Policy and Initiatives Director, Suhail Bhat. It is encouraging that so many consumers are using phone-paid services, nearly 50% according to the PhonepayPlus consultation document. Our main concern is that the proposals appear to collectively punish the majority of content providers by creating a layer of red tape, without actually addressing a small number of rogue elements that persistently mislead consumers.
We believe that all forms of non-compliance and consumer harm should be dealt with immediately and we would have liked elements of the new rules to allow for consumer complaints to be resolved more quickly. While we are still studying the changes, at this stage we are not convinced that the new regulations achieve anything that wasnt possible under the previous Code of Practice. However, we will be studying the consultation further following discussions with our members and working with (law firm) Denton Wilde Sapte LLP to produce a guide to its implications for MEF members.
Meanwhile, Alex Haffner, a Senior Associate and Regulatory Specialist at Denton Wilde Sapte LLP, who participated in the consultation which PhonepayPlus undertook before finalising its measures, says the measures imposed on the industry by the regulator are far-reaching and likely to be controversial.
Most notably, says Haffner, under a new regime, PhonepayPlus will require the providers of certain services to obtain prior permission to do so, and this will only be granted once they have agreed to comply with specific conditions governing the nature and content of those services. These will apply over and above the conditions to which all providers are currently subject. PpP has given those affected by these changes just six weeks to obtain the necessary permission from them.”