Regulations

Please feel free to read the details below, however we do advise you to visit http://www.icstis.org.uk for up-to-date information

CSTIS and premium rate services

ICSTIS regulates premium rate services in the UK. It issues a Code of Practice which contains the rules governing the content and promotion of premium rate services. The Code is supplemented by a set of Guidelines.

Premium rate services offer information and entertainment via phone, fax, PC (e-mail, Internet, bulletin board), mobile (SMS/WAP) or interactive digital TV. Services range from sports, voting and adult entertainment to competition, chat and business information services, and currently vary in cost from 10 pence per call to £1.50 per minute. The money paid for the call is shared between the telephone company carrying the service and the service provider providing the content.

A service provider is an individual, company or organisation that contracts directly with a Network Operator for premium rate numbers. The service provider is responsible for ensuring that the content and promotion of a service comply with the ICSTIS Code of Practice. This is the case even where the service provider is acting as a ‘reseller’ or ‘bureau’ providing the service on behalf of a client (‘information provider’).

Prior permission

Most services can be set up without ICSTIS’ prior permission. Certain services, however, which have been found to pose a greater risk of consumer harm may not be provided unless ICSTIS has given permission in the form of a certificate.

Where there is a requirement for prior permission, it is the service provider that needs to apply.

The quickest way to obtain permission is via registration, which is available for live technical and legal advice service types with a maximum call cost not exceeding £30.00.

The Registration form asks applicants to make a number of commitments relating to compliance with the ICSTIS Code of Practice and to provide a ‘mock-up’ of promotional material. A certificate can usually be issued within 7 working days of receipt of a completed Registration form.

The standard Application process is for services requiring closer consideration by the ICSTIS Committee. The form asks for more details about the service being proposed and, again, applicants need to provide a ‘mock-up’ of promotional material. Most standard applications can be ‘fast-tracked’, which means that a certificate is issued within ten working days of receipt of a completed form. For a few service types, including live entertainment, counselling and consumer credit services, the processing time is 4 weeks.

Please note that there is no charge for the prior permission process.

How ICSTIS can help

The Secretariat can advise on matters relating to compliance with the Code of Practice. It can also give advice on setting up a service and applying for permission.

Applying for prior permission

There are certain categories of service which may not be provided unless ICSTIS has granted prior permission to operate the service. These include the following:

 

  • All live services
    Including live advice services, live entertainment and live multi-party chat services
  • All  services charged at more than £1 per minute and which may cost more than £20 in total
  • All consumer credit services
  • Reverse-billed SMS chat and contact and dating services
  • All services charged at more than £1.50 per minute (not yet available)
  • All Directory Enquiry (DQ) Services

 

Please download ICSTIS Guideline 2 – Prior Permission (PDF format) for more details.

Where a proposed service falls into a category requiring prior permission, an application needs to be submitted by the service provider to the Secretariat using the Application form.

Where a proposed service will offer either live technical support, or legal advice, with a total call cost for either service type not greater than £30.00, a completed Registration form, together with a completed appendix, will need to be submitted to the Secretariat.

Applicants and those using the registration process should note the following:

 

  • When an application or request to register has been processed and granted permission, the service provider will be sent a permission certificate. The network operator will need to see the certificate before activating a premium rate number.
  • It is the service provider (individual, company or organisation contracting with a network operator for the premium rate numbers) that needs to apply for prior permission, even where the service provider is acting as a ‘reseller’ or ‘bureau’ providing the service on behalf of a client (‘information provider’). Application and registration forms must be submitted with a ‘mock-up’ of promotional material. If promotion will be by word of mouth, the ‘mock-up’ should be a script. Failure to provide all the required information may result in a delay in processing.
  • ICSTIS does not charge a fee to process registrations and applications.
  • The registration process should take 7 days. Most Applications should take 2 weeks, although for some types of service, including live entertainment, counselling and consumer credit services, the processing time will be 4 weeks. Where an application is incomplete, the processing time may be extended.
  • The ICSTIS Committee retains discretion to refuse applications or to seek further information.

 

Applicants wishing to offer live entertainment services, including one-to-one live chat, live psychic/tarot and multi-party-chat should note the following:

 

  • All service providers offering live one-to-one ‘chat’ and live psychic/tarot services are required to have compensation arrangements in place before operation commences. A non-returnable sum of £7,500 must be paid into the Compensation Fund. In addition, a Compensation Bond needs to be lodged (approximately £15,000 for one-to-one ‘chat’ and £7,500 for psychic/tarot). For more details download ICSTIS Guideline 6 (PDF format).
  • Providers of live entertainment services need to record all calls using ICSTIS approved recording equipment. For details of the requirements and a list of suppliers, please click here.
  • Applications for permission to take part in the trial of multi-party-chat services (enabling group conversation) are currently being accepted. For guidance on the terms and operation of the trial, including compensation requirements, please download ICSTIS Guideline 5 (PDF format).

 

For more information about applying for a permission certificate and about the categories of service for which prior permission is needed, please see ICSTIS Guideline 2 (above).

Outside ICSTIS’ remit

The following are outside ICSTIS’ remit:

 

  • Legal matters. Advice on laws such as gaming laws or data protection laws which may apply to a service should be sought from the relevant authority or a solicitor.
  • Commercial matters, including revenue and the cost of setting up a service. Individual network operators will be able to help with this.
  • Technical matters, including where to obtain equipment used to provide premium rate services. (Service providers wishing to offer live entertainment services subject to a requirement that calls are recorded should see the ICSTIS Recording Equipment Requirements).
  • Matters relating to services that do not charge via premium rate e.g. services paid for through credit cards.
Setting up a service that does not need prior permission

Where a proposed service does not fall into a category of service needing prior permission, Service Providers should do the following:

 

  • satisfy themselves that the content and promotional material for the proposed service comply fully with the ICSTIS Code of Practice and with the relevant ICSTIS Guidelines. Copy advice and guidance on proposed service content is available free to Service Providers from ICSTIS’ Secretariat.
  • satisfy themselves that any relevant legal or other regulatory requirements relating to operation or promotion of the premium rate service have been met.
  • go to a network operator to obtain premium rate numbers and to arrange to have the service connected (click here for network operator contact details).
  • Provide ICSTIS with details of premium rate numbers allocated by the Network Operator, together with contact details for communications regarding compliance with the Code of Practice. This can be done by downloading and filling in the Premium Rate Number Range Registration Form.
  • Click on Subscribe Now and follow the registration instructions to be updated electronically each time ICSTIS documents, including the Code of Practice and Guidelines, are updated (service providers without access to e-mail or the internet should call us to have their details added to the mailing list).
Services requiring prior permission

Where a proposed service falls into a category requiring prior permission, an application needs to be submitted by the service provider to the Secretariat using either the registration or the application process, depending on the type of service.

Applications can take up to 4 weeks to process:

 

  • All live services, Including live advice services, live entertainment and live multi-party chat services
  • All  services charged at more than £1 per minute and which may cost more than £20 in total
  • All consumer credit services
  • Reverse-billed SMS chat and contact and dating services
  • All services charged at more than £1.50 per minute (not yet available)
  • All Directory Enquiry (DQ) Services

 

To go straight to downloadable applications and registration forms, please click here.

Services currently requiring registration

Prior permission should be obtained for the following service types via registration. Registration will take 7 working days.

 Live conversation services offering the following categories of service:

 

  • Legal advice
  • Technical support services
Recording Equipment Requirements

Live entertainment services providers will be required to record calls. Paragraph 4.2.2 of the ICSTIS Code of Practice (Ninth edition) states that:

 

“Where recording of calls has been required, such conditions as ICSTIS may think appropriate will apply but, in particular, service providers will normally be required:

to use recording equipment compatible with ICSTIS replay facilities which enables the time, date and content of Live Services to be accurately identified from the recording; such recordings must enable ICSTIS monitoring at all times.”

Service providers should note that any lack of compliance with this will always be regarded by the Committee as very serious.

All such equipment must fulfill the following specifications:

 

  1. Playback facilities for the equipment must be available to ICSTIS at its premises.
  2. All recording should be tamperproof.
  3. All equipment must time and date stamp recordings.
  4. Playback facilities must have fast-forward/rewind/pause/start/stop capability within each file.
  5. Recording equipment should capture CLI (Calling Line Identification) if it is available from the telephone line (NB: service providers with a Data Protection Registration should register ICSTIS as a potential disclosee of information).
  6. Recording solutions must record the ISDN, a 30 line system must decode channel 16 and put the information in the call database (Channel 16 decodes information about the call such as CLI).
  7. The number of the DDI inward line being recorded should be inserted into one of the database fields.
  8. All systems must allow real time monitoring of calls by the service provider.  A maximum 10 second delay is acceptable.
  9. It must be possible for service providers to play back calls from archive without interrupting recordings.

 

For the recording of multi-party chat services the equipment must also record:

 

  1. All parties in the total conversation as one.
  2. Each individual person in the conversation on a separate channel of the recorder, to include the transmission and receipt elements of the call.

 

Please note that if you are developing your own customised recording equipment or you are intending to operate multi-party chat services you will need to liaise with ICSTIS’ technical consultant to ensure that your recording equipment meets the above specifications.  The technical consultant should provide you with evidence to support the fact that your equipment meets the above specifications and will normally charge £50 per hour plus travel expenses.

 

ICSTIS currently has playback facilities for systems manufactured and/or supplied by the following companies.  Service providers are advised that they should not purchase a system, which does not appear on this list without first discussing the matter with ICSTIS.

 

Please note that it is a requirement that all Service Providers must have an approved recording system in place before commencing live operations

Application Forms

Forms are in PDF format viewable in Adobe Acrobat which you can download free here

 

Please download the General Application Form (PDF) if you wish to operate any of the service types stated below.

 

  • All Live conversation services (excluding services listed in the next section which can be registered using the registration form and a service-specific appendix)
  • All consumer credit services
  • Services charged at more than £1.00 per minute and where the total cost can exceed £20.00
Application form for premium rate reverse-billed SMS Chat and Contact and Dating services (PDF)

Application form to register a Directory Enquiry (DQ) service (PDF)

Note: DQ service now requires prior permission from ICSTIS,

Registration Forms
Please download the Registration form and an appropriate appendix sheet. Fill in both forms and return to us at the address stated on the bottom of the form.

Please note you can only apply through the registration process if there is an available appendix for it. The appendix will ask more detailed questions about the specific type of service you wish to operate. The available appendices are given below:

Download the Registration Form (PDF)

 

Current appendices to the Registration Form

 

Download Live Technical Support Services Appendix (PDF)

Download Legal Advice Services Appendix (PDF)

 

Please remember that ICSTIS need both the registration form and an Appendix in order to process your request to register. Further appendices for other service types will be available in due course.