Text quiz code of practice planned
Tuesday May 22, 2007
Media Guardian online
UK broadcasters, mobile operators and production companies are collaborating on a code of practice for TV quiz text services in an attempt to restore consumer confidence after the call-TV controversy.
The practical framework for text voting services linked to TV shows has been described as a "back to basics" initiative designed to complement the existing code of practice overseen by Icstis, the regulatory body for the premium phone services industry.
A six-page framework document has been drawn up, with sections on ensuring fairness to customers, pricing information, competition services and refunds. The document has been put together by industry trade body the Mobile Entertainment Forum. Thirty representatives from across the TV and mobile industries took part in the first of a series of MEF workshops late last week to finalise the framework.
"These services are massively popular among the public and have become an integral part of many hugely successful programmes," said Suhail Bhat, the MEF director of policy and initiatives. "It is up to the industry to self-regulate and put in place practical protocols to ensure that consumers have confidence in using participation TV services."
Mr Bhat said a wide range of companies could be involved in one text voting service, which can make it hard to identify who is responsible if a text vote is delayed, for example. The framework clarifies which company is responsible for each element of the process and the protocol for reporting any problems.
Although MEF is a trade body for the mobile industry, companies from across the phone industry, including BT, have expressed interest in joining the working group. The framework will be refined through working groups in the next few weeks with the final document published in late June.
Research published today by digital agency Siren suggests that a fifth of the UK population have sent texts to a TV show. Women are more than three times more likely than men to text a show, and users of text TV services are 50% more likely to use red-button digital services.
In April, Icstis issued new rules on call TV services in response to a wave of revelations about alleged irregularities on shows including Richard and Judy, Blue Peter and ITV Play. Ofcom is also conducting more than 20 separate investigations into various TV quiz and voting services, and is due to publish a report on call-TV problems at the end of July.