ACMA: Mobile Premium Services code led to plunge in complaints

ACMA: Mobile Premium Services code led to plunge in complaints

Media regulator looks forward to seeing complaints go down further with revised code.

The Mobile Premium Services (MPS) code has been exceptionally effective, reducing complaints againsts content providers by 90 per cent, according to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

ACMA, Communications Alliance, and law firm, Baker & McKenzie, worked together to make the changes. ACMA is in charge of administering - or enforcing - the code. The media regulator registered the code in earlier this month.

The MPS code was introduced in 2009 to address concerns over paid mobile content such as subscription ringtone services or dial-in competitions often advertised on television. Many consumers have complained about the operations of paid content providers including unknowingly being charged for such subscription services.

Since the implementation of the MPS code, complaints to the Telecommunications Ombudsman (TIO) against mobile content providers has dropped significantly.

"The overall level of compliance is reflected in the dramatic decrease that we have seen in complaints which commenced prior to the new code coming into effect that continued over the code's duration," ACMA executive manager for security, safety and E-education, Richard Fraser, said.

"Depending on which way you look at the figures, on a quarterly basis, complaints are around 90 per cent than they were at its peak before the code came into effect."

The reviewed MPS code intends to fortify the effectiveness against complaints.

Part of the review on the MPS code concerned simplifying the language and terminology so consumers are clear on the responsibilities of content providers. This includes description of the types of services regulated under the code.

Another big change to the code is in the subscription message flow. When a consumer signs up to a premium mobile content service, the provider must inform the subscriber of its name clearly, give details of its helpline as well as information on how to end the subscription service.

Resending of a subscription message must also be done within one hour of the subscription request.

The revised MPS code now regulates advertising standards for mobile content providers as well including a mandate that information on fees that will be charged must be clearly displayed on any advertisement material.

The MPS code will now be reviewed every two years as opposed to every five years which was stipulated in the 2009 version.

The new code has been registered and will come into effect on June 1, 2012.

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