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PhonepayPlus launches new, flexible regulation to benefit premium rate consumers and industry

29 April 2010


PhonepayPlus today launches a new approach to the regulation of premium rate telephone services (PRS). Today the regulator begins consultation on a new stripped-down and simplified outcomes-based Code with consumers at its heart. Central to the proposed new regime is a Registration Scheme that will shine a light on rogue providers and provide consumers with helpful information on services they may have bought, or are thinking of buying.


PhonepayPlus today launches a new approach to the regulation of premium rate telephone services (PRS). Today the regulator begins consultation on a new stripped-down and simplified outcomes-based Code with consumers at its heart. Central to the proposed new regime is a Registration Scheme that will shine a light on rogue providers and provide consumers with helpful information on services they may have bought, or are thinking of buying.

Rather than simply revising the current Code of Practice, PhonepayPlus has built a new Code from the ground up, based on the outcomes that consumers expect when they purchase a service, such as transparency, fairness and a simple process when they encounter a problem.

An outcomes-based Code has several advantages. Simply-stated rules (supported by guidance as necessary) will give clearer, shorter direction to PRS providers. This makes for PRS regulation that is flexible and adaptable in a fast-moving, technology-based market, enabling industry to invest and innovate while keeping consumer interests at the heart of regulation, whatever changes occur in the market.

There are two significant changes to the current regulatory regime proposed in the new Code:

  • It shifts responsibility for compliance in the PRS value-chain. This means placing responsibility for consumer outcomes with those who actually operate and promote the service, while emphasising the due diligence and risk assessment duties of other businesses who help deliver the service to consumers; and
  • An industry Registration Scheme that requires all networks and providers involved in PRS to register their companies and services with PhonepayPlus before they can do business in the UK, giving consumers access to more information on services and allowing industry to make better informed decisions on which businesses to partner with.


Critically, the new Code would allow PhonepayPlus to quickly and directly target the relevant PRS provider responsible for causing consumer harm. For example, the new Code could be enforced against the party responsible for the content, promotion or operation of a service where there was a breach of consumer protection rules or against a network or other provider who had failed to do proper due diligence and risk assessment on a service that was harming consumers.

PhonepayPlus seeks responses to its proposals from both consumers and industry stakeholders. As the 10-week consultation period starts, Paul Whiteing, PhonepayPlus’ Chief Executive, said:

“The proposed Code is the result of ongoing discussion with industry and extensive consumer research about what is needed to secure a better premium rate services market which delivers consumer confidence and business certainty. We want an industry that puts consumers first and we believe a Code that focuses on outcomes helps to secure that and, as a consequence, a better market for all. It also allows industry to decide how best to achieve compliance with the Code while ensuring regulation is flexible and nimble enough to meet the demands of a rapidly-changing market."

To read the new Code consultation document, please click here

Ofcom is inviting comments on whether it should approve the draft Code should it remain in similar form post consultation. To read Ofcom’s consultation on PhonepayPlus’ draft Code of Practice, please go to www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/ppp/

Notes to editors

  1. PhonepayPlus is the organisation (previously known as ICSTIS) that regulates phone-paid services - the goods and services that you can buy by charging the cost to your phone bills and mobile pre-pay accounts. Further details of its work can be found at www.phonepayplus.org.uk
  2. Ofcom has responsibility and accountability for the regulation of premium rate services under the terms of the Communications Act 2003. However, Ofcom has appointed PhonepayPlus to deliver the day-to-day regulation of the market, granting it formal powers to protect consumers on its behalf by approving its Code of Practice.
  3. For media enquiries, 0207 940 7440 or email pressoffice@phonepayplus.org.uk