The Global Voice of Mobile Entertainment

Participation TV (UK)

In the UK, a number of broadcasters and service providers are being investigated into how their participation TV services have been run. In one TV show participants were overcharged by £200,000 and in others, viewers were encouraged to enter a competition when the winner had already been picked. As a result of these errors and a number of other high profile issues, many of the UK broadcasters have suspended certain aspects of their Participation TV services.

The UK regulator ICSTIS is currently investigating six TV shows in total and has announced plans to introduce a licensing regime for all companies that wish to operate Participation TV services.

Consumer confidence
Not all Participation TV services are paid for using a mobile phone – however, texting the answer to a quiz or voting is still the primary method of participation. The broadcaster, the mobile service providers and the services have taken a serious knock in terms of consumer confidence. In March, MEF member Gfk conducted quantitative research into how the recent furore surrounding Participation TV has affected consumer confidence in the services.

MEF’s Role
MEF announced that it will publish a Framework for the UK outlining best practice for Participation-TV following the recent controversy over such services. The framework aims to ensure that consumers can use their mobile phone to vote or enter competitions with complete confidence.

At a London based workshop held on the 17th May 2007, MEF brought together participants in the Participation TV value including mobile operators, service and content providers and production companies to discuss the draft Framework.

In particular, discussions revolved around:  

  • How a structured and auditable processes could be developed for such services
  • In what way can services be made more transparent in terms of both pricing
  • How responsibility and accountability could be assigned for each stage of the programme process and who is responsible for what and how issues are communicated quickly and effectively.
  • What actions can be taken to ensure consumer confidence
  • The practical steps involved with in dealing with services when something has gone wrong

For further information or if you would like to comment on the MEF Participation TV Framework, please contact Suhail Bhat

Participation TV (US)

MEF hosted an industry-wide consultation at the CTIA Wireless I.T. & Entertainment conference in San Francisco to review the draft Code of Practice (Code) currently being outlined for Participation TV (P-TV) in the US.

MEF has been working on the Participation TV (P-TV) Code since May 2007 to cover all aspects of P-TV delivery and operation to sustain and grow the industry. P-TV services provide viewers the ability to interact with television shows – for example, where viewers are asked to text in votes or enter games using their mobile phones for shows such as ‘American Idol’ or ‘Deal or No Deal.’

The Code provides a practical framework on issues such as the presentation of pricing information on TV, radio and in print to non-exhaustive examples of how to present promotions to consumers.

Key issues for discussion as part of the Code have included:

What ways can P-TV Services be made more transparent in terms of how they operate?

  • How can collective responsibility and accountability be shared and assigned for each stage of the P-TV process?
  • How can issues be communicated quickly and effectively between the parties involved in delivering a P-TV service?
  • What actions can be taken to ensure continued consumer confidence and what are the practical steps involved in dealing with and managing risk?

MEF is now consulting on its latest version of the draft code and seeking your views. If you have any comments on this code, please contact Suhail.

Find out more about the background of the P-TV Code.

Byron Review

In September 2007 the government announced an independent review of the risks to children from exposure to potentially harmful or inappropriate material on the internet and in games (including mobile).

The review is being led by Dr Tanya Byron and is seeking evidence from all groups and individuals who have an interest in this area.

The review can be found on the Byron Review website at:

View MEF's response to the Review (30 November 2007).

European Framework for Safer Mobile Use by Younger Teenagers and Children

MEF is working with the European Commission, child protection agencies, the GSM Europe and other stakeholders to help produce a European Framework for Safer Mobile Use by Younger Teenagers and Children.

Given the new mobile phone capabilities, we are closely involved with the development of any plans involving the protection of children and other vulnerable peoples. That we believe that MEF members are in the perfect position to contribute in a positive way in helping the European Commission understand how online digital content, such as films, music, games and mobile television can be accessed in an appropriate and child friendly environment. MEF is keen to encourage the development of innovative, sustainable business models and to promote the cross-border delivery of diverse online content services.

MEF will be signatories to the Framework. The draft Framework can be found here.

Consultations Affecting Mobile Entertainment Services

There are two consultations currently seeking responses to which MEF intends to respond to:

ICSTIS Consultation (UK)
Consultation on “Changes to Governance and the ICSTIS Code of Practice”
This consultation seeks stakeholders’ views on proposed changes to the ICSTIS Governance arrangements, particularly in relation to the adjudicatory functions and also seeks views on proposed amendments to the Code. The changes will affect the way adjudications are made against companies potentially in breach of the ICSTIS Code.

The consultation can be found at:  - the closing date for responses is 26th April 2007.

CIBT Consultation (Hong Kong)
The Government of Hong Kong is currently seeking views on the introduction and regulation of mobile TV services with respect to four main regulatory aspects.

The consultation can be found at: - the closing date for responses is 25th April 2007.

We will be setting up a working group to discuss the best ways forward for each of the above topics. If you are interested in meeting to discuss the issues, please contact Suhail Bhat.

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