Britain’s Media Supra-Regulator Set for December Launch

07 March 2003

Ofcom (the Office of Communications), the UK’s new unified media regulatory body, will open its doors for business in mid-December, it was announced Wednesday.

Created by the government as part of its upcoming Communications Bill, Ofcom will be responsible for the communications sector (excluding print and outdoor media), superseding five existing watchdogs: the Broadcasting Standards Commission, Independent Television Commission, Oftel, the Radio Authority, and the Radiocommunications Agency.

Ofcom will be independent and act at arm's length from the government, although liaising closely with the Department of Trade & Industry, the oxymoronic Department of Culture Media and Sport and other relevant departments – especially on European and other international negotiations.

According to former NTL managing director Stephen Carter who, laden with a princely severance payoff of £1.6 million [WAMN: 26-Feb-03], took up his post as Ofcom chief executive on March 1, the surviving staff of all five redundant regulators will have transferred to Riverside House, the body's new London headquarters, by Monday December 15.

Says Carter: “When Ofcom is fully formed, our statutory responsibilities will include the importance of creating and promoting a dynamic communications market, underpinned by limited and effective intervention through a constructive and mutually respectful relationship with stakeholders.” [The new ceo's instant grasp of obfuscation will clearly stand him in good stead with his political masters.]

Continuing in the same vein of hyperventilated gobbledygook, Carter added: “Ofcom will also be a ‘reach-out’ regulator that embraces consumer protection through the promotion of effective competition and choice, while being informed by modern citizenship.”

But in an unguarded moment, secretary of state for culture, media and sport Tessa Jowell lapsed into plain English: “We are pleased that Ofcom is making such good progress with its preparations,” she said. “This will ensure that our commitment to have the new regulator up and running by the end of 2003 will be achieved.”

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff