The PRS Scope Review
- Start: 15 May 2009
- Status: Statement published
- End: 24 July 2009
In light of increasing convergence, the wide diversity of services provided and the growth of Premium Rate Services (PRS) as a micro payment mechanism, we have reviewed the way in which PRS is regulated. We carried out the PRS Scope Review to ensure the current regulatory regime meets the needs of consumers, affords an appropriate level of consumer protection, and at the same time supports an innovative and changing PRS industry.
We conclude that the characteristics of PRS are sufficiently unique that a specific PRS regulatory regime is justified in order to protect consumers from harm, above and beyond the protection afforded by general consumer protection regulation.
This Statement establishes an analytical framework that will help inform future Ofcom considerations on whether the scope of regulation should be widened or narrowed. This framework will help determine whether a particular service or service category carries sufficient risks of consumer harm to require inclusion in the regulatory regime.
This Statement also recommends a number of initiatives, including:
- Introducing a mandatory registration scheme for the PRS industry, with all Service and Information Providers being required to register with PhonepayPlus prior to operating in the market. This registration scheme will be used to populate a searchable database to assist parties in carrying out due-diligence on their commercial partners, and will also support PhonepayPlus enforcement activities;
- PhonepayPlus should consult on strengthening PRS advertising requirements to align with Ofcom's approach to the use of PRS in TV programmes: calls from mobiles will cost considerably more; and
- As part of the upcoming revision to its Code of Practice, PhonepayPlus should consider creating minimum standards for complaints handling across the PRS industry.
The detail of these initiatives, and others, are outlined in the remainder of this Statement.