Some US-based media owners may have received a communication from their teleservice company regarding recent changes in BPA telcom request rules. We want to take this opportunity to provide you with the full story…
At its May 2013 meeting, the BPA Board of Directors voted to change Direct Request: Telecommunication rules to include requests made by an individual’s supervisors, eliminate the rigid assistant scripts, and reduce the opportunity for teleservice representatives (TSR) to lead individuals into desired responses. While the inclusion of supervisors has been well received, the balance of the changes received mixed reviews. The teleservice companies have been very vocal in their opposition of the assistant rule change.
After listening to thousands of phone calls, we found that teleservice companies had become very aggressive in defining and qualifying “authorized assistants.” Individuals that respond negatively to the administrative/authorization question are subjected to a barrage of probing questions in an attempt to convert. “Do you ever open mail for the individual?" “Do you ever take messages for the individual?”; "Do you provide any assistance to the individual?” It can actually become pretty uncomfortable when the pressure is increased.
We have made several attempts recently to address this challenge at the Board level. In May 2010, the BPA Board voted to consolidate direct request and company request into one category (eliminate the distinction). However, in December 2011 the Board reversed this decision because publishers wanted direct request reported separately from company request. In May 2013, we put forth a US teleservice
recommendation that any co-worker can make a direct request for another co-worker. This was rejected by the publishers and media buyers who felt it would dilute the direct request source. The message we received was clear – the market (publishers and media buyers) see a value in direct request circulation, and, if direct request is to retain its value, BPA must preserve the integrity of the source.
BPA Worldwide rules allow for Direct Request circulation and Company Request circulation. A Direct Request can be made by the subscriber, the subscriber’s supervisor or the subscriber’s assistant. All others should be reported as Company Request. We believe, over time, the teleservice companies have expanded the definition of assistant beyond its original intention and they are now struggling to bring it back in alignment with the spirit of the rule.
This item will be discussed at our Fall 2013 advisory committee meetings. Hopefully, we can find a solution that satisfies all parties. We will keep you posted as the matter progresses.
Please let us know if you have any comments or questions.