Icstis, the regulator at the heart of the television and radio premium phone rate scandal, has admitted it must be more proactive.
The premium phone line regulator says it has tended to "react" to problems but must anticipate and identify potential issues. It must not be merely an investigatory body. It also believes it has been "too modest" in its dealings in the past.
Icstis director George Kidd was speaking following a crisis meeting held last week by the regulator with broadcasters, production companies and phone handling services. It was called following a run of allegations and admissions of TV shows hosting "dodgy" premium rate and interactive services. This summit – and a further one to be held with radio stations – is indicative of the body’s new stance, says Kidd.
It has also ordered broadcasters to review their operations within two weeks, unveiled plans to introduce a licensing system "as a matter of urgency" and mooted launching a quality "kitemark" system.
He says: "We need an approach that takes us away from playing catch-up." Plans are already underfoot to restructure Icstis and rebrand it. Previously it has admitted that it has low awareness levels among consumers and that opinion formers believe the name (which stands for the Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of the Telephone Information Services) is "meaningless".
He says the crisis surrounding broadcasters is centred around clarity, process and communication.
Process is at the "heart of what has been going wrong", says Kidd.
"Icstis has an important role to play in that regard. We have been modest or uncertain about our role."
He says it is important that the impetus is from the outside, as broadcasting is such a "highly competitive, idiosyncratic, individual medium".