Etisalat, du asked to remove “inappropriate” marketing material

Etisalat, du asked to remove “inappropriate” marketing materialThe UAE’s Telecom Regulatory Authority has had to “instruct” both the telecom players in the market to remove misleading marketing material from their promotional campaigns in the past few weeks.

The TRA said in a media statement that while it found no major problems with the players’ marketing campaigns for the recently introduced mobile number portability, it “found it necessary to intervene and instruct each of Etisalat and du to remove certain material from their respective campaigns”.

The TRA had instructed Etisalat and du to be technically and commercially ready to launch the number portability service by the beginning of this week (on December 22, 2013). Both the players declared their readiness to the TRA, and the TRA has since announced that the service will go live on Monday, December 30, 2013.

That service is intended to promote further competition in mobile communications in the UAE and it will enable consumers to switch between licensees whilst retaining their mobile numbers, the TRA maintains.

With the launch of the service, both players undertook media campaigns to raise awareness among consumers of the advent of service in the UAE as well as to highlight their strong points. “The TRA is generally pleased to see that both licensees are preparing themselves for the launch of MNP and that each is conducting separate media campaigns. Those media campaigns are complex and involve different marketing communications delivered by different media including newspaper advertisements, press statements, web pages, SMS marketing and video clips,” it noted in the statement.

But the authority did find the players in violation of its Regulatory Policy governing Marketing Communications and Practices, which has been effective since February 1, 2008. “The TRA took those actions as the TRA considered certain material (published by each licensee) to be in violation of the regulatory framework,” it noted.

“Both licensees have complied with the TRA’s instructions and respectively removed inappropriate marketing communications,” it added. The policy is published on the TRA’s website, thus the policy can be read by all stakeholders including licensees and consumers.

The TRA is building the core ICT regulatory framework for the UAE’s burgeoning knowledge economy. In particular, the TRA supports the UAE’s ICT sector by safeguarding competition to protect the interests of subscribers, enhancing the readiness of e-services, encouraging investment, innovation and development, whilst facilitating a broader ecosystem for human capital development.

The TRA expects a healthy amount of competition between the licensees and the TRA expects such competition between the licensees to extend to their media campaigns. However, the TRA requires each licensee to conduct their respective campaigns in accordance with the provisions of the TRA’s regulatory framework.

Article 1.1 of the Marketing and Communications Practices policy provides: the purpose of this policy is to protect consumers from misleading, confusing, deceptive or otherwise inappropriate marketing communications and practices by telecommunications Licensees.

The TRA said it will continue to monitor the campaigns and will intervene again if necessary to protect consumers from inappropriate marketing material. However, the TRA notes that it is the responsibility of the licensees to comply with the provisions of the regulatory framework. Accordingly, the TRA urges each of Etisalat and du to continue their respective campaigns responsibly.

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