Hello and Happy Friday! It’s all go – or rather stop – in the interactive TV market. As revealed in our new newsletter out today, Ofcom has pounced with some spot checks on broadcasters who run interactive services, demanding to see the audits that were supposed to be carried out last year.
Surprisingly, a large proportion of tier two broadcasters haven’t done them yet and have called in people to get them done… and what have they found? Most of these broadcasters would fail and Ofcom inspection.
It turns out that many of these companies – and none of them have been named, but it isn’t the ITVs of this world – just have bad processes in place. A lot of them state “terms and conditions apply” but don’t say what they are, many don’t have any process in place to show that picking winners is done fairly (though we assured that it is) and many have issues with when competitions actually close (is midnight on the 21st 11:59:59 or 12:00:00, which is technically the 22nd?).
There is also the ongoing problem that many of these companies agree how services will be run over the telephone with service providers, with no written record of who said what. Not in itself a problem, but could be an issue if someone does complain.
And that’s the issue you see: complaints. And refunds. Ofcom (and PPP) are being very tight about making sure consumers get refunds if they complain. All well and good, but it isn’t such a cut and dried issue is it.
Rumour has it that the much vaunted return of PSMS voting for TV shows by Christmas is now unlikely to happen – largely because the rules as they now stand insist that anyone who complains that their vote was charged for and not counted gets a refund.
All well and good, but what about those people who, despite repeatedly being told that the lines are closing at a certain time, still send it a text vote? Surely there has to be some leeway?
This is going to be a hotly debated issue over the coming months – and one which through our many outlets we intend to cover in detail – and is likely to continue to drag out the continued closure of a potentially massive mass market interactive service.
It seems to me that, while something certainly needed to be done about the scams in the PTV world, we have – as ever, once the regulator is provoked into action – ended up with something too draconian to work. And everyone loses: the TV companies, the SPs, the telcos – and most importantly the consumer, in who’s name this is all being done.
It’s an age old question about regulation: how do you tackle the fine balance between protecting people from unscrupulous practices and protecting them from their own stupidity. Personally, I think “stupid tax” is the way to go, but what do I know?