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Press Release: WASPA intros new Ad Rules for members to protect consumers

3 November 2008

The Wireless Application Providers' Association (WASPA) has tightened up the advertising rules in its Code of Conduct to ensure that it is better able to enforce ethical behaviour by its members and protect the interests of consumers.

The new set of advertising rules comes into effect on 15 November 2008.

The WASPA Code of Conduct, which all of South Africa's major WASPs must subscribe to, outlines in detail how the organisation's members should conduct themselves in their interactions with the public. WASPs are service providers that provide mobile applications and content such as subscription services, competitions, ringtones and news alerts as well as bulk SMS messaging to corporate customers and directly to consumers.

Says WASPA chairman, Leon Perlman: "WASPA believes that ethical behaviour by WASPs is in the interests of consumers and the industry alike. Our rules seek to protect consumers from misleading and objectionable advertising content from WASPs so that they can have confidence in marketing messages from our members."

One of the most important changes that WASPA has made to its advertising rules is to introduce a new standard format for all WASP ads on television, with an emphasis on ensuring that all mandatory information is present and is easy to read on televisions of all sizes. This format is designed to ensure that viewers can easily see any relevant information about a service before they subscribe to it - including details about total pricing and type of service.

Another important change to the rules is stricter requirements for the monthly reminder SMS that WASPs must send to all of their subscribers under terms of the WASPA Code of Conduct. The reminder must follow a format and style specified by WASPA that gives customers more clear and explicit information about the services they subscribe to, the inclusive costs of the services, who the service provider is and how to unsubscribe from the service. The reminder must be unambiguous so that users will not confuse it with an ad. Rules governing live TV game-show and SMS and WAP addressing have also been made stricter.

The WASPA Code of Conduct includes detailed rules and guidelines around how the organisation's members may advertise their services, ensuring that WASPs are transparent about their pricing and terms & conditions so that end-users are able to make informed decisions. WASPs are expected to include in their adverts a Web site or telephone contact number, conditions and closing dates for competitions, and information about additional bearer technologies needed to access content (eg WAP, GPRS, 3G).

For subscription services, providers have to ensure that all promotional material, whether in print media, on the Internet, television or transmitted via text message, clearly explains how the subscription service works. Consumers should have ready access to an explanation of their "purchase" and what, if anything, they need to do to access the content.

In addition, WASPA's Code of Conduct aims to ensure that ads from WASPs do not contain objectionable material, especially if these ads may be seen by children. The advertising rules commits WASPA members to ensuring that their advertising material does not contain any explicit sexual conduct as defined in the Films and Publications Act, unless displayed in adult media. Any age restrictions on the content the WASP has provided must be clearly marked and the service provider must have an Adult Verification System in place for access to that content or service. The WASPA advertising rules can be viewed at: http://www.waspa.org.za/code/advert-rules.shtml

Should you believe a WASPA member has broken these rules, you can lodge a complaint by going to http://www.waspa.org.za/code/complaint.shtml and following the process outlined there.



WASPA represents the mobile development; value added services and content services community in South Africa. After lobbying the mobile operators and WASPs in late 2003 for an industry body, WASPA's formative meeting was held in August 2004. Membership of WASPA was made mandatory by the mobile operators and TV stations for any company doing value added services in South Africa.

WASPA's remit is to promote and self-regulate the WASP industry. As part of the self-regulatory component of WASPA, there is the now internationally recognized and emulated self-regulatory regime for mobile value added services that includes the WASPA Code of Conduct & Advertising Rules. WASPA's Code of Conduct regulates inter alia, competitions, chat, adult services, spam, CRM, advertising of services,subscription services and pricing. The first version of the Code was passed in June 2004 and implemented on 1 September 2005. It has been updated numerous times as the need has arisen.

Enforcement of the Code & Advertising Rules is achieved by a novel quasi-judicial system that consists of a procedure for lodging and responding to complaints where it is thought the Code is being contravened. Adherence to the Code and the Advertising rules is mandatory for all providers operating in South Africa.

ICT lawyers acting as WASPA adjudicators will find on the merits and have the power to suspend, fine, expel any WASP or Information Provider found to contravene the Code rules. Adjudications are enforced through contractual provisions in all WASP agreements. There is also a 3-person appeals panel as well as an emergency panel.

Issued by:

Ivan Booth
Reliable Sources PR
082 851 7419
ivan (at) reliablesources.co.za