Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

NTC bans sending of commercial messages sans prior consent of mobile subscriber

By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes
The Philippine Star

Mobile phone operators and other content providers can no longer send commercial and other promotional advertisements to cellular subscribers without their permission.

This as the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued a circular amending existing rules on broadcast messaging service as well as banning "spam’ or unsolicited text messages. Broadcast messaging service allows one to send the same text message to a large number of mobile phones.

The circular, however, does not cover emergency, distress, public service information messages, network advisories, and consumer welfare and protection related advisories.

Commercial advertisements have been defined by the NTC as a notice or announcement for the purpose of soliciting or advertising a business, product or services and to generate revenue. Promotional advertisements, meanwhile, include those designed to increase visibility or sale of a product or service.

Under the new circular, commercial and promotional advertisements, surveys, and other broadcast/push messages shall be sent only to subscribers who have prior consent or have specifically opted-in or has requested to be included in a specific list to receive direct marketing through text messaging.

All content providers (CPs), or entities or organizations that create or maintain a database of information or data and which may offer services or products to the public for compensation, are required to register with the NTC. The Department of Trade and Industry will not approve promos of those not registered with the commission while public telecommunications entities (PTES) (including mobile phone operators) will not enter into agreements with CPs not registered with the NTC.

Subscribers/recipients who do not reply to broadcast/push messages shall be considered to have not opted in and such broadcast shall be stopped.

PTEs and CPs are also required to provide an easy-to-remember hotline number that may be accessed by voice calls and text messaging and free of charge to assist subscribers who may have queries on subscribed services and/or who wish to opt-out from a particular service or to be excluded from receiving any broadcast message.

The new circular also provides that broadcast/push messages shall not be sent between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m., except on paid subscription services.

All broadcast messages shall display the name of the PTE. In the case of CP-initiated messages, the CP shall indicate their company names or assigned codes.

There shall be an exclusion list for each PTE/CP which it will regularly update to ensure that subscribers in the list are not sent broadcast messages.

The broadcast messaging circular likewise provides for the manner by which complaints by subscribers regarding spam messages can be filed with the PTE concerned. Complainants not satisfied with the action of the PTE can elevate the matter to the NTC.


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