Ed Richards, a former advisor on media matters to the office of UK prime minister Tony Blair, has been appointed chief operating officer of Ofcom, the UK media and telecoms regulator.

Richards, an Ofcom senior partner responsible for competition and strategy until his elevation Thursday, is seen by many in the media industry as a Downing Street placeman at the supposedly independent Office of Communications.

As of today, some fear he is also the prime minister's enforcer.

According to an official statement, Richards will integrate strategy, economic analysis, consumer policy, market research and business planning with financial, resources and staff management - a multifaceted role many believe is more properly the remit of Ofcom ceo Stephen Carter, to whom Richards officially reports.

Ofcom portrays its restructuring as a move to help it "anticipate the regulatory needs of the communications industries over the next three to five years".

To that end, Kip Meek, Ofcom's chief policy adviser, is now responsible for the regulator's international strategy, which dovetails with his extramural role as chairman-elect of the European Regulators' Group. He has also been handed responsibility for Ofcom's content and standards group

Said a spokesman: "Ofcom has consistently engaged with international organisations, particularly in Europe, and we now want to put that on a more structured footing."

Elsewhere within the fast expanding quango (a sardonic UK acronym for 'Quasi Non-Governmental Organisation'), Peter Ingram will run the new technology division; while Philip Rutnam becomes responsible for spectrum management, policy and deregulation. Sean Williams is charged with competition policy and economic regulation.

All three, plus Meek, report to ceo Carter.

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