Consultation on the regulatory framework for phone paid subscriptions

19 February 2019

The PSA has undertaken a review of the regulatory framework underpinning phone-paid subscriptions to assess its effectiveness and identify whether and what changes are required to address the issues without inadvertently impacting on those services that are already operating effectively.

In undertaking this review, the PSA has considered a range of information and data and obtained some early input from stakeholders (through the Call for inputs process that we completed). Information and data was also obtained through external research that PSA commissioned to understand consumer expectations when engaging with phone-paid subscriptions, as well as a review of our complaint data and other research previously undertaken. 

The evidence from these show that there are significant opportunities to strengthen the regulatory framework to increase consumer trust and confidence, ensure consumers are protected from harm and to support growth. The PSA has identified that there are opportunities for change at each stage of the consumer journey of using a phone-paid subscription – from discovery and sign-up, through to using and exiting a service.

This document sets out our considerations and findings. We are now consulting on proposals to introduce Special conditions to apply to all phone-paid subscriptions, regardless of price or service type.

The closing date for responses is 16 April 2019. Where possible, comments should be submitted in writing using this form and sent by email to

Consultation document

04 April 2019 update:

The Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA) has published an addendum to its consultation on changes to the regulatory framework for phone-paid subscription services.

The key change proposed in the addendum is to include Mobile Originating SMS (MO SMS) as one of the methods in a two-stage process that providers could use to meet the proposed consent to charge requirements.

This method is currently used across a range of phone-paid services, including charity text donations and broadcast competitions. It represents a convenient sign-up option which offers clarity and ease-of-use to consumers.

The addendum also sets out the PSA’s intention to update some of our existing sets of Special conditions (such as those for online competition and online adult services) to align with the proposed Special conditions for subscription services. This is intended to support a more consistent consumer experience across service types and set clear requirements for providers. 

To provide stakeholders with enough time to consider and respond to our proposals, including those set out in this addendum, we are extending the consultation period on the proposed regulatory changes for subscription services to 3 May 2019.

Read the addendum in full here.

How to respond:
An updated consultation response form can also be found here.


06 August 2019 update:

Statement on introducing Special conditions for all phone-paid subscription services


Notices of Special conditions:

Notice of Special conditions - Subscription Services

Notice of Special Conditions - Recurring Donation Services

Notice of Special Conditions - Online Adult Services

Notice of Special Conditions - Online Competition Services

Notice of Special Conditions - Society Lotteries

Notice of Specified Charges and Durations of Calls


Responses received to the consultation:

Action 4

ActionAid UK


anonymous [1]


consumer [1]

consumer [2]




Fair Telecoms

Individual [1]

Individual [2]


Open Mobile Global





We have also received some responses which have been considered as part of this review but which at the request of the respondent have not been published.

Supporting documents:

Additional data April 2019


25 September 2019 update:

The PSA is extending the implementation date for Special conditions RDS6(d) and RDS7(c) for specific providers, which will now come into force on 6 January 2020.  Find out more