This statement sets out the changes which Ofcom is making to the rules about the use of non-geographic numbers in broadcasting.
Non-geographic telephone numbers, such as those beginning 0845, are generally used by consumers to access services provided by businesses, helplines and government agencies. In addition, broadcasters currently use some non-geographic numbers for a variety of purposes to allow viewers and listeners to interact with programmes. For example, by voting for an outcome or participating in a phone-in.
Analysis by Ofcom indicated that consumers were often confused by the cost of calls to non-geographic numbers. This confusion meant that some consumers could both under and over use such numbers without fully understanding the costs involved.
Ofcom decided a new tariff structure for non-geographic calls known as the ‘unbundled tariff’ should be introduced to minimise confusion over pricing. Under the new tariff, the call cost will be unbundled so that consumers will know exactly how much is paid to their phone provider and how much is passed on to other companies. These changes will come into force on 1 July 2015.
Late last year, we issued a consultation looking at the impact on those changes on the existing rules which apply to pricing information given in television and radio broadcasts. This statement sets out amendments we are making to the rules in the Broadcasting Code to take account of the new unbundled tariff. These changes are designed to make the costs of using non-geographic numbers more transparent and simpler for viewers and listeners to understand.