Former NTL managing director Stephen Carter has scorched out of nowhere to lead the race for the prestigious role of chief executive at Britain's new telecoms and broadcasting supra-regulator Ofcom. Until today (Thursday), Carter had been a horse so dark that no-one outside Ofcom knew he was even a runner!

Word around the media parish pump is that Carter is one of a field of three selected by headhunters to contest the final straight. He will be challenged by former favourite Patricia Hodgson, currently ceo of the Independent Television Commission, and a third runner believed to be Nick Lovegrove, a McKinsey consultant who advised John Birt when he was director general of the BBC.

The determining interviews will be held next week by a panel comprising Ofcom chairman Lord David Currie and non-executive board members.

Carter, whose resumé includes the post of chief executive at J Walter Thompson London, is now seen as the frontrunner as Currie is thought to favour someone from a business or economics background.

The appointment, due to be announced at the end of this month, also requires political nods from the respective secretaries of state: culture, media and sport (Tessa Jowell) and trade and industry (Patricia Hewitt).

Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff