Calling regulations: Successful outcome for RICA

Media Release
December 2011

One of the first significant government relations activities undertaken by the Research Industry Council of Australia (RICA) has delivered a successful outcome for the industry.
A joint initiative of the Australian Market and Social Research Society (AMSRS) and the Association of Market and Social Research Organisations (AMSRO), RICA is the new, single voice, external communications brand for the country’s market and social research industry.
Following RICA’s two written submissions and face-to-face meetings with various federal government stakeholders, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has introduced amendments to the standard that regulates how telephone surveys are conducted that will have only a minor impact on the industry.
In its submissions and representations, RICA made the case that the restrictions imposed by the Telemarketing and Research Calls Industry Standard should not be tightened and that research calls should be more clearly separated from telemarketing calls.
The Telemarketing and Research Calls Industry Standard was introduced in 2007. While the market research industry obtained an exemption from inclusion in the Do Not Call (DNC) Register, which was introduced at the same time, it was caught up in the associated regulations, which include restrictions on telephone survey calling times.
The review of the Telemarketing and Research Calls Industry Standard commenced in December 2010 when ACMA released a consultation paper.
The amendments that have resulted from the review accord with the RICA position, with only minor additional operational requirements (described below) and with significant drafting changes to better differentiate, and minimise the potential for confusion, between telemarketing and research calls, including:
  • Renaming the standard as the Telemarketing¬†and Research Calls Industry Standard 2007
  • Restructuring the provision of information requirements¬†in the standard so that research¬†calls have a separate section to non-research¬†(telemarketing and other) calls.
‚ÄėThere were more than 60 submissions to the¬†review and some argued for additional restrictions,‚Äô¬†explains AMSRS vice president Syzmon¬†Duniec. ‚ÄėSo there was a significant risk that the¬†review would result in an increased regulatory¬†burden and cost for research companies. There¬†was also the longer-term risk that lack of differentiation¬†between research and telemarketing¬†would lead to further regulation in future.
‚ÄėIf we had been bundled together with telemarketers¬†in the standard, there would have been a¬†heightened risk that we would have been caught¬†up in any push against intrusive telemarketing¬†calls, and automatically dragged in. Because there¬†is a serious risk there will be greater regulation of¬†telemarketing calls in future to address community¬†concerns, it‚Äôs important that we‚Äôve been able to¬†make clear the distinction between telemarketing¬†and market research.
‚ÄėIt‚Äôs a pleasing outcome for the industry, because¬†it demonstrates that ACMA understands¬†that research should be treated differently to¬†telemarketing because it has significantly greater¬†social value. All in all the amendments represent¬†a fairly modest set of requirements.‚Äô
The amendments to the standard that have operational implications include:
  • Reducing the response time from 30 days to¬†seven days for a researcher to provide a call¬†recipient (if requested by the call recipient) with¬†information relating to:
    • Where the researcher obtained the call¬†recipient‚Äôs telephone number;
    • The name of the person the call was intended for (if applicable); and
    • The name and contact details of any¬†organisation that provided the information¬†to the person calling (if applicable).
  • A new requirement for the researcher to make¬†reasonable efforts to ensure that the calling¬†line identification number displayed is suitable¬†for return telephone contact by a call recipient
  • A new requirement for survey calls involving¬†recorded or synthetic voices, whereby the¬†researcher must ensure that a mechanism to¬†enable the call recipient to request information¬†is provided during the call
  • Clarification that researchers are not prohibited¬†from making or attempting to make calls on¬†a state or territory public holiday (unless this¬†holiday falls on the same day as one of the¬†prohibited national holidays: New Year‚Äôs Day,¬†Australia Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday,¬†Anzac Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day or¬†a holiday on a weekday in lieu of any of these).

AMSRS members who conduct telephone surveys are advised to examine the amendments in full to determine the specific impact on their operations and whether any changes are required to comply with the new regulations. They can be downloaded at www.comlaw.gov.au/Series/F2007L00815

Duniec says this outcome provides a good example of how RICA can work effectively for the industry.|

‚ÄėWe have established a template with regard¬†to how we can work effectively with AMSRO¬†through RICA. Our focus is now on access to the¬†Integrated Public Number Database (IPND) and¬†we are planning more face-to-face meetings with¬†key stakeholders in Canberra next year.

‚ÄėWe‚Äôve also had positive feedback from stakeholders¬†that presenting our case to government¬†with a single voice and recognisable brand is a¬†sensible approach. It was a bit confusing before¬†the introduction of RICA.‚Äô


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