Media Watchdog Should Oversee BBC Editorial Content, Says MP

25 July 2003

Ofcom, the new broadcast and internet supra-regulator, empowered by Britain's recent Communications Bill, should add the regulation of the BBC’s editorial content to its formidable list of responsibilities, an MP urged Wednesday.

The demand was made by Gerald Kaufman, a former Labour minister and legendary loose cannon, who chairs the Commons culture, media and sport select committee. He claims there are “real doubts” as to whether the BBC’s board of governors is the appropriate body to regulate the corporation.

Kaufman’s call was triggered by last week’s political stand-off between the BBC and the government over the latter’s allegedly ‘sexed-up’ Iraq weapons dossier and the subsequent tragedy surrounding the BBC’s informant Dr David Kelly.

But the politically-inspired stratagem was not received with enthusiasm by Ofcom, which is less than eager to take-on additional responsibilities as it prepares to assume its wide-ranging responsibilities in December. The regulator argues it lacks the capacity to bring the BBC’s news broadcasts fully within its content remit.

The BBC’s content, like that of other broadcasters, will be monitored by Ofcom with regard to the causing of harm or offence, fairness and privacy; while the Corporation’s own board of governors retains responsibility for accuracy and impartiality.

Ofcom will supersede and absorb the respective functions of Britain’s five extant regulatory organizations: the Broadcasting Standards Commission, the Independent Television Commission, the Office of Telecommunications, the Radio Authority and the Radio Communications Agency.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff