From a regulatory perspective, the MCA is responsible for the overall regulation of the electronic communications services sectors, which include fixed and mobile telephony, Internet and television distribution services, that is, access to TV services, such as those offered by the local service providers. It also regulates the postal and the Maltese eCommerce sectors.
Whilst monitoring the local operators activities vis-à-vis the products and services they place on the market amongst other regulatory activity, we also adopt a consumer centric approach by ensuring that these operators are in fact adhering to their obligations at law, particularly in relation to transparency of information, as well as ensuring that the consumers are knowledgeable enough to take informed decisions when selecting their service of choice.
In this regard, we adopt a three-pronged approach to our consumer affairs function.
A core aspect of our consumer related activity is complaint handling, where consumers encountering difficulties or issues related to the services we regulate, can contact us if a satisfactory outcome from their service provider is not forthcoming. The extent of the action that we can take in relation to consumer complaints is very limited, and depends highly on the particular nature of the complaint and on the powers we have at law. There are instances where a complaint may relate to a service that we regulate, however, due to the nature of the complaint, such as mis-selling, misleading advertising, unfair commercial practices and so forth, we would not be able to intervene directly as we are not empowered at law to do so. In such cases, we refer consumers to other competent entities and follow up accordingly.
As mentioned previously, we also monitor the sectors to identify areas of concern and undertake the necessary regulatory action to address such issues. In so doing, we ensure that service providers comply with their obligations at law and that end-users are provided with up to date information on their rights and obligations when using any communications services. We can take regulatory action upon a breach by the service providers of any laws administered by the MCA. As an example, such action can take the form of fines imposed on service providers or decisions which increase service providers’ obligations.
In a sector where new products and services, or service bundles are continuously placed on the market, it is essential that consumers can fully understand what they are purchasing or subscribing to . We therefore undertake every effort to ensure that consumers are well informed about their rights and obligations. We regularly participate in various media programmes, across various channels and platforms. We manage a Facebook page, where we upload various useful information targeting consumers. Moreover, this consumer corner provides extensive information on consumer rights and obligations. You may wish to visit our FAQs section. We also undertake regular awareness raising initiatives by participating in a number of TV and radio programmes where we discuss several topics of consumer interest.
We keep the consumer at the centre of our regulatory activities and do our best to ensure that consumers know their rights and obligations to be able to take informed decisions. Even though we have sector specific laws and can only intervene within our parameters at law we strive to ensure that consumer rights are respected. These are your rights as an electronic communications consumer!
For further information you may wish to visit the MCA’s FAQs section.