Following a 4-month long public consultation, the Media Development Authority of Singapore (“MDA”) has finalised changes to the Media Market Conduct Code (“the Code”).
The changes will take effect in April. The Code was originally implemented in 2003 to outline the rights and obligations of local pay-TV operators. The changes aim to enhance the protection of pay-TV consumers in Singapore.
Key changes to the Code?
- Shorter contracts now available: Operators will need to provide consumers the option of signing up for contracts lasting 12 months or less.
- No forced upgrades of non-pay TV services: Consumers cannot be obligated to upgrade their non-pay TV services (eg, broadband or phone services) in order to make changes to their pay-TV services.
- No early termination charges: Consumer will be able to exit fixed-term contracts without paying early termination charges within 30 days from the date of any increase in subscription fees for the service which they subscribe to, or any removal of material channels or contents from the service.
- Bundled service contracts: Where there is a bundled service contract including pay-TV and non-pay-TV service, operators must disclose to consumers the charges (including penalty fees) to be paid if the pay-TV service were ended. The remaining fees to be paid for the non-pay TV service, plus any penalty fees for termination, must not exceed the subscription fee that the consumer paid.
- Critical information summary to consumers: Operators must provide to consumers at the time they enter into the service contract a summary clearly and accurately stating the key terms and conditions of the contract, and obtain confirmation that the consumers understood the terms.
- Consumer’s consent to continue with trial/complementary service: Before charges can be applied, operators must obtain consumers’ consent to continue with the trial/complementary service.
- Operators need to keep records: Operators need to keep marketing materials and agreements for two years and provide the relevant records when requested by MDA.
Impact of changes
These changes will help to enable fair market conduct in the pay-TV industry in Singapore. Ultimately, consumers stand to gain the most from these changes. Consumers will have a clearer idea of what they are signing up for and greater flexibility to change service providers. Pay-TV operators would do well to adapt their existing practices to the new regulatory changes or risk being subject to the enforcement measures provided under the Code, which include warnings and financial penalties.