Monday, 07 November 2016 23:02

ACMA reviewing rules on telemarketing, research calls


The Australian Communications and Media Authority is considering possible changes to the rules and regulations governing telemarketing and research calls, including providing greater clarity to assist consumers receiving the calls.

The ACMA issued a discussion paper on Monday seeking public feedback on a number of proposed changes including a requirement that the name of the calling company be provided at the start of the call – and removing requirements on industry that have been identified as realising “little or no consumer benefit”.

Legislation covering current standards for telemarketing  are “sunsetting” in the New Year and must be remade before they  lapse on 1 April 2017.

The acting ACMA Chairman Richard Bean says the standard provides some important and long-standing community safeguards in relation to telemarketing and research industry calls and the authority welcomes views from interested parties in relation to the continued application of the safeguards and the proposed changes.

Bean says there has been recent public debate about parties exempt from the obligations contained in the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 (DNCR), including about telemarketing by registered charities.

“Under legislative provisions, the Industry Standard is restricted to the specific areas noted above and does not provide an opportunity to contemplate broader issues. The ACMA will refer any submissions made about other important issues to the Department of Communications and the Arts.”

The Industry Standard places specific obligations on industry and provides consumers with the minimum levels of conduct that they can expect from all telemarketers, including in relation to permitted calling times and when a call must be terminated.

This means that even if a particular entity, such as a charitable organisation, is exempt from the requirements of the DNCR Act and therefore able to call numbers listed on the register, it must still meet the requirements contained in the Industry Standard.

Different rules can apply depending upon whether a call is a research call or a telemarketing call, but in general:

•    A call is a research call if one of its purposes is to conduct opinion polling or standard questionnaire-based research

•    A call is a telemarketing call if one of its purposes is to offer to supply, or to advertise or promote, goods or services, or an interest in land, or a business or investment opportunity, or to advertise or promote a supplier of any of the above, or to solicit donations.

And, telemarketers and researchers are not able to call people during certain times, unless the consumer has consented to being called at that time.

Times when calls are not to be made:

And, telemarketers and researchers are not able to call people during certain times, unless the consumer has consented to being called at that time.

Times when calls are not to be made:

Research calls Telemarketing calls
Weekdays Before 9.00 am or after 8.30 pm Before 9.00 am or after 8.00 pm
Saturday Before 9.00 am or after 5.00 pm Before 9.00 am or after 5.00 pm
Sunday Before 9.00 am or after 5.00 pm Calls prohibited
National Public Holidays Calls prohibited Calls prohibited

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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