Telecoms disputes panel planned

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2007, 12:00am

An arbitration mechanism to settle monetary and contractual disputes about telecommunications services will be introduced this year, the industry regulator promised yesterday.

But the Office of the Telecommunications Authority said disputes involving pay-TV would be excluded, because pay-TV came under the jurisdiction of the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority.

Ofta assistant director So Tat-foon told legislator Wong Kwok-hing yesterday that telecommunications and broadband service providers would be invited to join the dispute-settling mechanism.

Mr Wong said the voluntary mechanism was 'a good start in protecting consumers' rights - at least the consumers would have somewhere to complain to when disputes arise'.

But dividing jurisdiction over broadcasting and telecommunications between two separate bodies 'is well behind the trend', he said.

Asked if he was worried that the service providers would not join the arbitration mechanism, Mr Wong said it would give them a competitive edge if they did. 'Consumers are more well-informed about their rights. They will surely choose a service provider that has aligned itself with the mechanism if they are given a choice,' he said.

In a recent survey conducted by the Democratic Party, 26 per cent of 1,398 respondents said they found the sales tactics of pay-TV companies misleading and 23.2 per cent had difficulty cancelling services.