This is the first of 5 seminarsto help develop policy for a Communications White paper. Appropriate that the consumer perspective is the first one – because that’s what our regulatory framework should be directed at – ensuring consumers have access to a wide-range of quality products, services and content. That they have the confidence and information they need to switch between providers. That the deals they sign up to are competitively priced, with clear and transparent terms. Because it is these confident consumers that drive quality and innovation and keep the communications market vibrant and growing. Deciding what to include in this seminar and in the paper was really quite difficult – because lots of people have different views about what the ‘consumer interest’ is – where the line is drawn between consumer issues and citizen issues. Competition issues will impact on consumers, as will spectrum issues and content issues. So, we followed Bob’s advice and just thought about what matters to people. And across all of the other seminars there are issues that affect people (who are consumers) – so not everything is covered here. Clear from the responses to the open letter that complete overhaul of legislation wasn’t needed. The paper highlights the main issues that were raised. But we need to ensure flexibility for future – so don’t be constrained by what is covered in the paper. Just want to repeat what Ed V said earlier and Bob in his opening – this isn’t a one off chance to provide input. The purpose of today’s seminar and the papers is to stimulate the debate and to get you thinking about your written responses. So today we’ve heard about some of the changes that regulation will need to respond to over the coming years. With the last Communications Act we created a converged regulator, but the challenge for the next one is to deal with the reality of convergence – as it is happening now – and to create flexibility for what will happen over the next ten years. No one has a crystal ball – but you all do have experience, evidence and insight that we need to shape the regulatory framework for the future. So your responses are really important.
So the paper covers some but not all of the issues that have been talked about today - Switching – fundamental to a competitive market - if I want to switch provider how easy is it for me to do so, how can I compare between products, what are my options? Switching is a live issue because of Ofcom’s ongoing work, but we’ve included it in our considerations for the future because its really important that we get this right for consumers – as bundled services are increasingly the norm and likely to become more complex in the future. Open internet – (from a consumer perspective) am I getting what I expect to get? (from a market/innovation perspective) how can we ensure innovative internet services can come to market in the future? Again this is something of a live issue given the work that the Broadband Stakeholder Group have been leading with industry to develop a code of practice. And we’re hopeful that we will be able to announce the outcome of that work shortly. But that won’t be the end of our considerations and we are particularly interested in testing whether Ofcom’s powers in this area are sufficient and that there is clarity about the circumstances in which those powers would be used. Consumer protection issues like unwanted calls/texts and spam. So here we are looking for views on the telephone preference scheme and how we can improve its effectiveness over the longer term. How people can ensure that their data is kept private when they want it to be (many of you will be aware that Ministry of Justice are currently negotiating a new European data protection regulation) but we’d be interested in any longer term issues that the Communications framework might need to take into account. And on micropayments - what kind of protections need to be in place to encourage the use and development of innovative payment methods, is the framework for premium rate services right for the future? The paper also asks some questions on eAccessibility which the eAccessibility Forum will be discussing in more detail at a meeting next week. Really keen to hear how new technologies can help in this area. Finally – the paper touches on digital consumer rights around the purchasing of content where we are interested to know what the barriers are to consumers having seamless digital experience where the content they purchase can be accessed on multiple devices and platforms. This isn’t an exhaustive list, the paper signposts to….
Reference other seminars, timings of Leveson etcDiscussion paper in the form of a questionnaire to UKCCIS members was launched by DfE last week - closing 6 September. Responses will be considered by the UKCCIS Board in October. Department for Business is taking forward work that will overhaul numerous pieces of confusing and overlapping consumer legislation. Including bringing the rights framework up to date in respect of how they apply to digital content. BIS will be consulting on changes to the goods and services rights and this will include proposals for a bespoke regime applying to digital content. The consultation will be published in mid July on the BIS website and there will be three months in which to respond. There will also be a short online version of the consultation where respondents can navigate to the sections that most interest them. We encourage you to take a look. The BIS team will also be organising a stakeholder roundtable in September to discuss the proposals so please let Sarah Hudson know if you are interested.Where there are cross-cutting issues connected with these other work strands – please do include them in your responses – so that we can ensure we are joined up with colleagues across Whitehall.
Developing policy for the White paper • Seminar series • Seminar papers • Your responses
What the paper covers:• Switching;• Open internet;• Consumer protection: against unwanted calls, texts & spam, unauthorised use of personal data and micropayment systems;• Accessibility;• Consumer rights - purchasing and use of digital content.
What the paper signposts to:• Other strands of work in the Communications review;• Work that Department for Education and the Home Office are doing on child safety online;• Work that Department for Business, Innovations and Skills is doing on Consumer Bill of Rights.
Your responses:• Not everything is covered here, some things are picked up elsewhere….• …..But overall, are there any gaps?• Don’t feel constrained by the topics covered in the paper, but do focus on what needs to change and why.
Process• Further seminars – 9 July – ‘Competition in Content Markets’ – 12 July – ‘Maximising the value of spectrum to support growth and innovation’ – 16 July - ‘Driving investment and growth in the UK’s TV content industries’ – September (TBC) – ‘Supporting growth in the radio (audio) sector’• Video and transcripts available at http://dcmscommsreview.readandcomment.com• Submit written responses by 14th September