UK media regulator Ofcom is taking over premium-rate phone regulator PhonepayPlus (formerly Icstis) to take a tighter rein on the call-TV industry after a year of scandals. It’s one measure to emerge following Ofcom’s review of the premium-rate sector after all the main broadcasters were embroiled in instances of charging callers to competition lines despite not considering their entry. PhonepayPlus will remain but will take direction from Ofcom (via release). The move makes sense as so much of the premium-rate call sector has moved away from the 0898 competition lines of old and to the broadcasting sector for which Ofcom has responsibility.
Moreover, the inquests in to this year’s scandals in part blamed a lack of communication between broadcasters and their call-TV vendors – something Ofcom is best placed to put right. The regulations will change further, too – Ofcom’s latest premium-rate services review will be publishes early next year. In an interview with paidContent:UK in October, Edward Boddington, CEO of the Harvest Media Group that powers call and SMS voting for Pop Idol and other shows and who is a spokesman for the industry, estimated £200 million ($412 million) had been wiped off the £300 million ($618 million) UK sector this year thanks to the scandals.