Regulator eyes premium rate TV quizzes

ICSTIS proposes new rules

The premium rate phone services regulator has launched a consultation on proposed new rules and a prior permission regime for premium rate TV quiz channels and TV programmes dedicated to premium rate competitions.

According to the Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services (ICSTIS), there are currently at least 12 TV stations solely operating premium rate TV quiz services and many more channels with programmes whose prime function is to provide premium rate TV quizzes, in which participants interact using premium rate 09 numbers or premium rate SMS.

But the increase in these channels has led to an increase in the number of complaints about them – over 100 complaints since May, according to ICSTIS. The regulator is anxious to protect consumers and intends to set up a new regime to govern the increasingly popular interactive medium.

The proposed rules, announced yesterday, will oblige those intending to run premium rate competitions on quiz channels to obtain prior permission from the regulator.

To obtain this permission, the service providers will need to show that they comply with requirements such as:

  • Clear pricing;
  • An adequate explanation of how the service will operate, together with clear terms and conditions;
  • A cost warning after spending £20; and
  • Substantiation of certain aspects of the operation of the service – especially the need for there to be a single correct answer, available for ICSTIS to inspect should complaints arise.

“ICSTIS’ aim is that effective consumer safeguards are in place so that consumers can continue to enjoy new quiz TV programmes and channels with the clear understanding about the costs associated with participating,” said ICSTIS Director, George Kidd.

The consultation will run until 21 October 2005.

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