Ofcom tightens rules of Premium Rate Services

Ofcom has overhauled its broadcasting code to provide stronger audience protection when the public use premium rate telephone services (PRS) to call adult, psychic and quiz chat shows.


The measures have been introduced following a series of scandals involving phone-in voting and phone-in competitions in 2007. Ofcom has levied heavy fines recently against many broadcasters and radio companies after concluding investigations.

Ofcom first proposed tightening the rules governing these channels in April 2008.

The changes come into effect early next year and mean that PRS may only be included in TV and radio programmes, such as phone-in competitions and votes, when they are related to the main editorial purpose of the show.

Ofcom emphasises that this move will not affect programmes such as Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and Big Brother where phone-ins are integral to the structure of the show.

If broadcasters wish to promote PRS services more extensively than permitted under the new rules, then these services will fall under the strictures governing advertising and be regulated under the Advertising Code.

Channels that could be affected by this are the Participation TV (PTV) channels that are based on promotion of PRS. These include specialist quiz, adult chat and psychic channels.

The Code currently limits advertising of PRS of a sexual nature to encrypted channels and also restricts the promotion of PRS featuring live personal psychic services.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here