Report of an inquiry into television broadcasters' use of premium rate telephone services in programmes
Report by Richard Ayre published 18|07|07
1.1 Ofcom announced the launch of this inquiry on 22 March 2007. I was asked to consider whether there were any systematic reasons behind the large number of apparent failures of compliance in the use of premium rate services (PRS) on television programmes. My terms of reference required me to consider:
- Consumer protection issues and audiences’ attitudes to the use of PRS in television programmes;
- The benefits and risks to broadcasters in the use of PRS in programmes;
- The respective compliance and editorial responsibilities of broadcasters, producers, telecoms network operators and others involved in those programmes;
- The effectiveness of broadcasters’ and telecoms operators’ internal compliance procedures, guidelines and arrangements to ensure compliance with Ofcom and ICSTIS codes;
1.2 The inquiry was charged with making recommendations on actions needed to restore public confidence in the use of premium rate telephone services by television broadcasters.
1.3 During the course of this inquiry I have talked to senior executives and policy professionals for all the main broadcasters (BBC, ITV, Channel 4, five, GMTV and Sky); to executives from major independent production companies involved in PRS programming, and to PACT; to two of the principal service providers (SPs); to representatives of most of the mobile telephony operators; and to senior executives of ICSTIS, the premium rate regulator. John Stables of Ofcom has joined me in those meetings and has also held separate discussions on my behalf with other producers, service providers and telephony operators: he has led a small team of personnel from Ofcom and ICSTIS in researching the information contained in this paper. I want to record my thanks to John, and also to the staff of ICSTIS whose help enabled this inquiry to make rapid progress.
1.4 The conclusions presented here are entirely mine, and they are offered to the Ofcom Board for its consideration. It should be clearly understood that I have not examined in detail any of the many cases of alleged non-compliance which are currently being considered by either ICSTIS or Ofcom, because to do so could have impeded the formal investigations: indeed it was necessary for me to give assurances to that effect to some of the broadcasters to secure their full cooperation with this inquiry. I have, however, drawn on evidence from those cases of non-compliance which have resulted in findings and which have completed the regulatory procedures.
Richard Ayre - June 2007
The full report, redacted in places, is available below:
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Report of an inquiry into television broadcasters' use of premium rate telephone services in programmes (266 kB)
Redacted report published 18|07|07