Regulation: the time is right for the industry to speak up

The Mobile Entertainment Forum (MEF) has stated it is time for the mobile industry to speak up as regulators increase regulations in the space.

The mobile media industry is being subjected to a record number of consultations from a variety of regulators across the globe, said MEF. The UK is most immediately affected with five key consultations in 2009 alone:
– BCAP/CAP consultations [recently closed]
– Ofcom scope review [currently open]
– Ofcom Audience Participation in Radio Programming – the use of PRS [currently open]
– Ofcom Broadcast Codes Review [currently open]
– PpP Discussion paper on Code [currently open]

There are potentially significant overlaps in jurisdiction between different regulators as recent MEF responses, written in collaboration with MEF’s UK members, show.

These overlaps can create a lack of regulatory clarity for the industry, particularly when they seek to determine which regulations apply. For example, some of the proposed changes to the CAP/BCAP Codes clash with the PhonepayPlus Code.

The UK has Ofcom, the ASA, PhonepayPlus, the OFT and the ICO all with Codes or regulations that apply to the mobile media industry. Any ambiguity is likely to cause serious regulatory uncertainty and as a consequence, the regulatory burden on MEF members runs the serious risk of becoming disproportionate.

MEF has established an EMEA Regulatory committee to deal specifically with the possible burdens imposed on its members and to respond to consultations throughout EMEA that directly impact its members’ business strategies and revenues.

This year MEF submitted a consensus response written in consultation with its UK members to the PpP Activity Plan & Budget (08/09) resulting in no increased costs for our members. MEF has also provided members-only guides, written by MEF member Denton Wilde Sapte, on issues including the Unfair Commercial Practices and Audiovisual Media Services Directives, as well the PpP Consultation on Mobile PRS.

There is a real possibility that the Ofcom Scope Review coupled with the PhonepayPlus consultation could set a new and positive standard for regulation in the UK. Suhail Bhat, MEF policy and initiatives director, commented: “The Ofcom Scope Review is essential for the industry as its aim is to ensure that the current regulatory regime meets the needs of consumers, affords an appropriate level of consumer protection and also supports an innovative and quickly changing industry. Coupled with the PhonepayPlus discussion paper, this is the best opportunity for the industry with MEF to make a real difference.”

PhonepayPlus has recently announced that the 12th revision of the Code will be among the most significant in the organisation’s 23 year history. Specific focus relates to regulating developments in a technologically fast-paced industry, such as the explosion of mobile phone paid services, which have changed the face of the industry in recent years.

Ingrid Silver, partner at Denton Wilde Sapte, MEF board member and chair of the MEF policy and initiatives committee stated: “There has never been a better time for the industry to join MEF and lead the way in ensuring that the regulations are fit for purpose, transparent and proportionate. The regulators are showing a genuine commitment to review the regulations and MEF will continue to work with them to secure a successful future for the industry and ensure that the consumer trust in mobile media services continues to grow.”

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