Businesses must strive to comply despite ever-changing regulatory landscape

In most markets across the world now, regulatory compliance has become a major aspect of every business entity that intends to effectively and successfully operate overtime.

There is more vigilance both on the part of regulators and the entities they regulate. Most regulators have established laws and policies that place a higher compliance burden on the businesses that operate in the markets they regulate.

Being aware of the serious implications of non-compliance, the regulated entities have responded by paying close attention to what their obligations are under the existing regulatory framework.

Any business that has a footprint in several countries across the globe, therefore, must contend with a wide range of realities which are unique to the different jurisdictions in which it operates.

Similarly, local enterprises, too, must wade their way through the regulatory requirements that exist in the country. Each market runs on a different legal and policy regime instituted by the respective regulator(s) as well as the dynamics of audience disparities not only in tastes and preferences, but also in what is traditionally deemed acceptable by that society.

The terms and conditions that different jurisdictions place on issuance of operator licenses to businesses vary depending on the objectives of the regulating body. The objectives will largely be informed by the varying economic dynamics and cultural nuances of the different markets which will require organizations to continually evolve as these change.

Considering these complexities, every responsible corporate citizen and business should take the regulatory framework seriously and always seek to meet the policy compliance requirements and standards, whether it is in a single country or across markets.

If a business is a multinational that is present in numerous markets, then it will find itself in a unique position where it must meet standards both nationally and internationally. In this circumstance, most entities will seek to align with the higher or more stringent standard in order to meet most of the obligations across the board.

Where there are no established policies or guidelines, and the regulator allows for a consultative process, businesses must take keen interest in participating in the policy-shaping consultation.

Where no such process exists or the present policy is restrictive, then great care must be taken to acquire an understanding of what the regulatory obligations are, and to plan on developing risk mitigation measures that will ensure that the regulated entities do not remain exposed to what could potentially be severe repercussions resulting from non-compliance.

In addition to this, the regulatory risk mitigation plans and processes must be continuously updated and reviewed to keep up with the dynamic market changes and developments as they unfold.

In the case of Pay-TV service providers for example, the evolution of TV entertainment world over has changed the landscape – for both content and regulation. There is more and more content that is being churned out that might increasingly conflict with interests of certain audiences and regulators.

Additionally, the changing broadcasting platforms and technologies have in the recent past triggered regulatory reforms in many jurisdictions.

At a business level, different entities must undertake varied measures to identify and isolate the potential impact of regulatory risks to the business. However, every organization’s success or failure is immensely hinged on its people. As such, staff also need to be kept in the loop of what the regulatory compliance obligations are, and how each one’s day to day work plugs into the ability of that business to meet or not meet these obligations.

It is imperative to let the people in the organization know and understand the seriousness of their input into compliance and the implications both for them individually and to the business entity should the regulatory obligations not be met.

It is also critical that the “tone from the top” is clearly aligned to establishing a business culture that encourages and supports regulatory compliance. The senior management teams and the Board of Directors must, therefore, be seen to be demonstrating their willingness to meet the existing compliance obligations. 

In the event that a business is not able to meet its compliance obligations, the critical role of stakeholder engagement will kick in.

Every business must understand the importance of constantly and effectively engaging with its regulator because more often than not, both the business and the regulator want the same thing, and that thing is to come up with a solution that will lead to compliance. An effective engagement with the regulator will commonly yield a solution workable for both parties.

The author is the regional regulatory compliance manager (Northern Region), MultiChoice Africa.

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd