20 April 2007
ACMA invites comment on Sunday calling times for research calls
The Australian Communications and Media Authority is seeking comment on varying calling times for research calls on Sundays under the Telecommunications (Do Not Call Register) (Telemarketing and Research Calls) Industry Standard 2007 (the industry standard).
Following representations made directly to the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator the Hon Helen Coonan directed ACMA on 4 April 2007 to consider varying the industry standard to allow research calls to be made on a Sunday between 9 am and 5 pm.
The Minister's direction requires ACMA to consider certain matters including the public benefit derived from accurate and high-quality research.
A discussion paper, Consideration of whether to remove the prohibition on making research calls on Sundays, invites comment and the submission of data and other evidence to assist ACMA in its consideration as to whether it should vary the industry standard.
The closing date for all submissions is Monday 21 May 2007.
Copies of the discussion paper can be downloaded from the National industry standard page.
Media contact: Donald Robertson, ACMA Media Manager, on (02) 9334 7980.
Telecommunications (Do Not Call Register) (Telemarketing and Research Calls) Industry Standard 2007
ACMA is responsible for making a telemarketing and research calls standard and establishing a Do Not Call Register on which people can register their telephone numbers to enable them to opt out of receiving a wide range of unsolicited telemarketing calls. These responsibilities arise from the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 (DNCR Act) and the Do Not Call Register (Consequential Amendments) Act 2006 .
Under section 125A of the Telecommunications Act 1997 (the Telecommunications Act), ACMA must determine certain industry standards relating to the telemarketing industry before the commencement of Part 2 of the DNCR Act. The standard must only cover certain matters, permitted calling hours, information which must be provided by the caller, requirements on terminating unsolicited calls and the enabling of calling line identification.
On 22 March 2007, ACMA made the Telecommunications (Do Not Call Register) Telemarketing and Research Calls) Industry Standard under section 125A of the Telecommunications Act.
Under the industry standard, a caller must not make or attempt to make a call on:
- a Saturday before 9 am or after 5 pm
- a Sunday or national public holidays
- for research calls on a weekday before 9 am or after 8.30 pm and
- for other telemarketing calls, on a weekday before 9 am or after 8 pm.
There is an exception to the rules where consent has been given by the call recipient in advance to receive the call during the prohibited calling hours.
Where more stringent calling hour restrictions apply under a state or territory law, the more stringent law will continue to apply. ACMA understands there are no state or territory laws that regulate calling hours for research calls.
A research call under the industry standard is defined as meaning a call described in paragraph (b) of the definition of a telemarketing call in section 7 of the Telecommunications Act. Generally speaking, a research call is a voice call where the purpose or one of the purposes is to conduct opinion polling or to carry out standard questionnaire-based research.
Australian Communications and Media Authority (Telemarketing Industry Standard) Direction No. 1 of 2007
On 4 April 2007, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator the Hon Helen Coonan directed ACMA to consider whether to exercise its power under section 130 of the Telecommunications Act to vary the industry standard so as to:
- remove the prohibition on making, or attempting to make, a research call at any time on a Sunday; and
- include a prohibition on making, or attempting to make, a research call on a Sunday at the same times as a research call is prohibited on a Saturday, that is before 9 am and after 5 pm, as provided for in paragraphs 5(2)(c) and (d) of the industry standard.
ACMA is required under the Australian Communications and Media Authority (Telemarketing Industry Standard) Direction No. 1 of 2007 (the Direction) to have regard to the following matters in considering whether to vary the industry standard to allow research calls at certain times on a Sunday:
- the important public benefit derived from accurate and high-quality research; and
- the likely impact that prohibiting research calls on Sundays would have on the collection of accurate and high-quality research.
In considering whether to vary the industry standard, ACMA will also have regard to the impact that the variation would have on the overall application of the industry standard in delivering appropriate consumer safeguards.
Subsection 4(3) of the Direction requires that if ACMA varies the industry standard as a result of the direction, the variation must commence at the same time as Part 2 of the DNCR Act. This will ensure that the varied permitted calling hours for research calls commence at the same time as the other provisions in the industry standard. Part 2 of the Do Not Call Register Act is expected to commence on 31 May 2007.
Copies of the Direction and industry standard are available at www.comlaw.gov.au.
The Do Not Call Register
The industry standard will complement the Do Not Call Register being established under the Do Not Call Register legislation. The Do Not Call Register is a database where individuals will be able to list their Australian fixed line and mobile telephone numbers that are used for private or domestic purposes. Generally, it will be against the law to make unsolicited telemarketing calls to a number listed on the Do Not Call Register. This is subject to some limited exemptions which will allow certain public interest organisations (such as charities and educational institutions) to make specific types of telemarketing calls to numbers on the Register. The Register is due to commence operation in May 2007.