Magazine article Marketing

Let's Hope That Ofcom Takes Its Communications Bill Suicide Pill. (Opinion)

Magazine article Marketing

Let's Hope That Ofcom Takes Its Communications Bill Suicide Pill. (Opinion)

Article excerpt

There is a very interesting clause in the Bill now before Parliament that will create the Office of Communications. There has been the usual controversy about the extent to which setting up Ofcom now, pre-empts debate in the main Communications Bill over what its functions should be.

But the most interesting clause in this short bill is the one providing for Ofcom to be wound up. It is, of course, not an example of radical forward-thinking, just a precautionary measure in case for some reason no time is found for the already delayed Bill.

The use of the suicide pill clause in the current legislation might be the right option.

Senior broadcasters are now starting to question seriously the wisdom of bolting together five regulatory bodies covering everything from television and radio to the management of the spectrum.

The concept of a single regulator emerged at the height of the dotcom and telecommunications boom. It looked as if a number of communications technologies were about to converge. It is now a very different world, with many of the telecoms giants that once seemed to be the new masters of the universe struggling to avoid bankruptcy. Yet the glacially slow legislative process grinds on as if nothing had happened.

Those who know the regulatory scene well are also concerned about the tensions that are going to be 'dumped' in Ofcom.

Bodies such as the Independent Television Commission (ITC), with important regulating content, have very little in common with bodies such as Oftel, which has mainly been involved with competition issues. …

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