ACMA Targets 14 SMS Providers

The ACMA’s initial review of mobile premium services advertising is damning, and the govt body intends on ramping up its investigations

The Australian Communications and Media Authority is increasing its campaign to eradicate unacceptable practice in the mobile premium services industry.

An initial review by the ACMA of advertisements for mobile premium services across television, magazines, internet and other media indicated some potential problems with a majority of the ads.

In a move to limit the alleged damage that can be caused by some providers, the ACMA registered the Mobile Premium Services Code, which places obligations on mobile premium service providers regarding advertising and improved customer safeguards.
The code came into effect on 1 July 2009 and the ACMA immediately began monitoring compliance.

‘The ACMA is disappointed at the initial results and now has fourteen formal investigations underway into suppliers of mobile premium services suspected of breaching the new Mobile Premium Services Code,’ said Chris Chapman, Chairman of the ACMA. ‘Content suppliers are on notice that the ACMA expects them to lift their game to comply with all the rules, especially the provision of clear and legible pricing information in advertisements for mobile premium services.’

In addition to its compliance monitoring, the ACMA is developing the previously announced regulation to complement the Mobile Premium Services Code, including the capability to bar mobile premium services.

The ACMA is considering two ways to implement barring of mobile premium services. “Default” barring will automatically block the use of mobile premium services on all new mobile services until the account holder requests its removal, while “opt-in” barring means the use of mobile premium services would be blocked at the request of the account holder.

‘The capability to bar use of mobile premium services can help consumers better manage their mobile expenditure,’ Mr Chapman said.

All providers will be required to introduce a capability to bar mobile premium services by 1 July 2010. The ACMA is inviting submissions from the public and industry on this draft regulation to ensure relevant data, facts and perspectives are considered in adopting the new rules for the implementation of barring premium mobile services.