Magazine article Information Today

Communications Bill. (International Report)

Magazine article Information Today

Communications Bill. (International Report)

Article excerpt

While Prime Minister Blair was setting out his vision for a wired U.K at the e-Summit, his government introduced a Communications Bill to the House of Commons that's intended to reform the regulatory framework for the communications sector. The bill deals with responsibilities that fall under the auspices of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

The government claims that the legislation will "introduce greater flexibility to respond to the technological and market changes driving modern media and communications. It aims to create the most dynamic and competitive communications industry in the world." If passed, the bill will become law by the end of 2003.

The following are the main provisions of the bill:

* The creation of a new Office of Communications (Ofcom) and the transfer of all regulatory activity to that office. This will replace five existing regulatory bodies.

* A new framework for network and service licensing

* A means to enable radio spectrum trading

* A system to regulate and accommodate the switchover from analog to digital services

* The creation of an advisory Consumer Panel

* The creation of an advisory Content Board

* The application of the Competition Act of 1998's powers to the communications sector

* An appeals procedure relating to spectrum rights

Most controversially, under these provisions, the existing exclusion of non-European ownership of U. …

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