News item topics are like buses – nothing happens for weeks or months, then everything happens at once. Following yesterday’s publication of the Phonepayplus annual plan and a market study, today Ofcom approved Phonepayplus’ 12th edition of its Code of Practice, which will become effective from 1 September 2011.
For those not familiar with UK premium rate regulation, Phonepayplus is a slightly odd organisation. At a very top level it regulates the content and marketing of premium rate services. It started life in the 1980s as a self-regulatory organisation (ICSTIS) which was only given statutory backing in 2003. When operating as a self-regulatory body it could only operate through network operator applied sanctions – in essence withholding of money or ceasing service provision. Over time Phonepayplus has increasingly applied regulation directly, and one of the key changes from September is to continue that trend by directly applying the new Code to those providing or marketing premium rate services, whilst extending existing network operator due diligence requirements (which in theory should already pass down the value through contractual mechanisms) directly to various intermediaries not currently directly covered.
The new Code will also extend the scope of registration requirements, streamline certain investigation and sanction processes, and require PRS service providers to have effective complaints procedures and take measures to minimise ‘bill shock’.