The Communications Act 2003 Royal Assent July 2003 411 sections, plus 19 schedules 263 specific duties, compared to 128 under existing regulators’ statutes However, some old duties were outside the statutes, eg EU Regulations
Ofcom’s specific duties Ofcom’s specific duties fall into six areas: Ensuring the optimal use of the electro-magnetic spectrum Ensuring that a wide range of electronic communications services - including high speed data services - are available throughout the UK Ensuring a wide range of TV and radio services of high quality and wide appeal Maintaining plurality in the provision of broadcasting Applying adequate protection for audiences against offensive or harmful material Applying adequate protection for audiences against unfairness or the infringement of privacy
Ofcom’s Mission Balance the promotion of choice and competition with the duty to foster plurality, informed citizenship, protect viewers, listeners and customers and promote cultural diversity. Serve the interests of the citizen-consumer as the communications industry enters the digital age. Support the need for innovators, creators and investors to flourish within markets driven by full and fair competition between all providers. Encourage the evolution of electronic media and communications networks to the greater benefit of all who live in the United Kingdom. Ofcom exists to further the interests of citizen-consumers through a regulatory regime which, where appropriate, encourages competition. To do this Ofcom shall:
Ofcom’s Regulatory Principles (1) Ofcom will regulate with a clearly articulated and publicly reviewed annual plan, with stated policy objectives. Ofcom will intervene where there is a specific statutory duty to work towards a public policy goal which markets alone cannot achieve. Ofcom will operate with a bias against intervention, but with a willingness to intervene firmly, promptly and effectively where required. Ofcom will strive to ensure its interventions will be evidence- based, proportionate, consistent, accountable and transparent in both deliberation and outcome.
Ofcom’s Regulatory Principles (2) Ofcom will always seek the least intrusive regulatory mechanisms to achieve its policy objectives. Ofcom will research markets constantly and will aim to remain at the forefront of technological understanding. Ofcom will consult widely with all relevant stakeholders and assess the impact of regulatory action before imposing regulation upon a market.
Ofcom and NICC Good reputation over 10 years Successful model of co-regulation Industry has adopted consensus decisions Played role in promoting competition, eg –Calling Line ID –Number Portability –Carrier Preselection –LLU and DSL
Ofcom and NICC (2) Ofcom pleased to learn about NICC Consistent with: –Stated bias against intervention –Seeking least intrusive mechanisms Recognise limited resources available Less incentive to cooperate in innovative areas
Ofcom’s Technology Group Headed by Chief Technology Officer Comprises: –R&D Team –Technology Strategy Team Overall objective: “To apply technology insight and R&D resources to further Ofcom’s key objectives”
Technology Group Specific obligations from Comms Act S4(7) To encourage service interoperability S4(9) To encourage compliance with standards S10 To encourage availability of easily usable apparatus S11(1) To encourage development of content rating & filtering systems S152(4) To carry out spectrum research S152(5) To make spectrum efficiency grants
Technology Group Other activities will include contributing to: –Spectrum trading –Digital switchover –Advice to Competition & Markets –Assessing impact of new technologies –Dialogue with industry & other stakeholders –Promulgating understanding and awareness of technology within and without Ofcom
Concluding thoughts Ofcom is keen to continue supporting NICC Several NICC studies will be high on Ofcom’s agenda, eg NGNs, DSL Keen to leverage NICC expertise in these areas Encourage NICC to build links with other co- regulatory bodies