AIME Trumpets Success of its Lobbying Efforts to Bring Back SMS-Based Interactive TV Voting in UK

The Association for Interactive Media and Entertainment (AIME)--a UK trade body that bills itself as representing "the interactive media business where customers use their telephones, televisions or computers to access, interact with and pay for information and entertainment"--is trumpeting the success of its lobbying efforts in convincing regulator, PhonepayPlus, to ease restrictions on premium SMS-based interactive TV voting that were imposed as a result of the UK's so-called "participation-TV scandal" (note: the scandal erupted back in 2007, when it came to light that broadcasters were inviting viewers to participate in premium-rate SMS-driven competitions that they had no chance of winning; broadcasters were subsequently prohibited from using SMS voting on their shows).

According to AIME, PhonepayPlus has released a supplementary notice that outlines three significant changes to what AIME describes as "restrictive regulatory requirements regarding votes placed outside defined voting windows and the associated demands for refunds to customers who were disregarding announcements and on screen instructions." AIME describes PhonepayPlus's changes to its regulatory regime (the full text of which can be seen here) as follows:

  • "Votes or entries which are received outside the voting window--e.g. when lines are open--do not have to be counted or refunded provided that this risk is clearly communicated to consumers, that consumers are informed their entry is invalid but they will still be charged, and that there are no technical difficulties (either from the network or provider) which might have caused votes or entries to be delivered late."
  • "Phone lines may remain open when programs are repeated, provided that the voting/entry window for PRS is still open during the repeat."
  • "Where multiple methods of voting/entry exist for the same broadcast event, then if some of those methods will have shorter voting/entry windows than others this must be clear to consumers in each call to action."

AIME says that it has been focused on resolving issues raised by the participation-TV scandal since October 2009, in order to enable the return of SMS voting on TV. It cautions that "the actual timing of SMS re-introduction for TV voting may vary as individual broadcasters will need to satisfy themselves that the dynamics of their particular program formats are properly considered before offering the facility to their viewers" (note: commercial terrestrial broadcaster, ITV, is believed to be considering the re-introduction of SMS-based interactive TV voting--see the article published on, August 23rd). "AIME is very satisfied with this outcome and particularly with the co-operation offered by PhonepayPlus which clearly demonstrates the benefits of a co-operative approach to industry regulation," AIME general secretary, Toby Padgham, said in a prepared statement. "We believe customers will welcome the opportunity to enjoy convenient SMS interaction for TV voting to the benefit of all concerned."