Magazine article Marketing

The White Paper Will Award the RA Some Real Regulatory Power

Magazine article Marketing

The White Paper Will Award the RA Some Real Regulatory Power

Article excerpt

The government has an amazing stick to beat the media tycoons with

Naturally, all the White Paper attention has been on issues such as one ITV, soar-away radio shares and the governance of the BBC. But one apparently obscure measure concerning a rather shadowy body deserves much wider scrutiny.

That the Radio Communications Agency, once part of the Department of Trade and Industry, and best known for chasing pirate radio operators, will come under the new Ofcom looks like a small print issue. In fact it is potentially significant and its importance is likely to grow.

The body that is responsible for managing the radio spectrum came out of the shadows in the spring when it was responsible for orchestrating the [pound]22.6bn auction for the third-generation mobile telephone licences.

Of course, it is entirely logical that the RA should be part of the new regulatory body. Spectrum management is clearly going to play a key role in the economics of all forms of communication in future. If the 3G auctions are any guide, the finite resource of the spectrum could become a critical cost for communications companies, marketers and consumers alike.

The radio spectrum, which used to be allocated free to legitimate users, is now a virtual goldmine. As RA chief executive David Hendon put it in the RA's last annual report, "spectrum has become a staple raw material of the knowledge economy".

And far from the public gaze Dr John Forrest, former head of engineering at the old IBA and former chief executive of NTL, has been working away as chairman of the Spectrum Management Advisory Group, set up to provide independent advice to the government. …

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