Blair Plants Spook in Ofcom

28 March 2003

Ofcom (Office of Communications), the British government’s new supra-regulator for telecoms, broadcast media and the internet, announced on Thursday eight new fulltime appointments to its board.

Perhaps the most significant appointee is Ed Richards, a former advisor to chancellor Gordon Brown, later a protégé of [then] BBC director general John Birt whom he advised on BBC strategy. Richards then climbed the greasy pole to Downing Street, becoming premier Blair’s senior policy advisor on the media. He is recognised as the virtual architect of the highly controversial Communications Bill, which spawned Ofcom and is currently in passage through parliament.

At Ofcom, he will sit on the executive board, alongside chief executive Stephen Carter, as senior partner for strategy and market development – a position some media onlookers equate to acting as the prime minister’s eyes and ears. Given his background, it is likely Richards will take a close - some believe intimate - interest in regulatory matters affecting the BBC.

The other appointees are …

Kip Meeks
Alumnus of McKinsey and Coopers & Lybrand, now managing director of Spectrum Strategy Consultants a London management consultancy focused on the so-called convergent industries [telecoms, broadcast media and the internet] and chaired by government peer Lord David Puttnam. He will relinquish his job with SSC on taking up the Ofcom post – though no mention was made of his shareholding in the company.

Robin Foster
Currently director of strategy at the Independent Television Commission. He assumes the role of strategy and development partner.

Tim Suter
Head of broadcasting policy at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. He joins as development partner responsible for policy on content and standards.

Philip Rutman
Presently director of regulatory policy at Oftel, becoming competition and strategic resources partner.

Sean Williams
Policy adviser to erstwhile Tory prime minister John Major. He joins as competition and investigations partner.

Kate Stross
Executive at the now defunct ITV Digital. She dons the mantle of commercial director.

Vic Brashko
Former adviser to Cable & Wireless, joins as operations director.

Ofcom will open its doors for business in mid-December. It supersedes five existing media watchdogs: the Broadcasting Standards Commission, Independent Television Commission, Oftel, the Radio Authority, and the Radiocommunications Agency.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff