Office of Communications

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Office of Communications ( Ofcom ) is the UK's media regulator . It was established as the "higher authority" for the new requirements due to the increasing overlap of the various mass media in 2002 by the Office of Communications Act . It was given full authority by the Communications Act of 2003. On December 29, 2003, Ofcom was given the responsibilities that were previously under the jurisdiction of five other regulatory agencies. The seat of the authority is in London .


According to the statute, the authority's task is to serve the interests of citizens and consumers by promoting competition and protecting consumers from harm caused by offensive or offensive material.

Ofcom's primary responsibilities include licensing , research , rule-making, complaint handling and competition monitoring. Typical of Ofcom are surveys that are published on its website and can also be used in decision-making.

Basics, structure and financing

The idea of ​​Ofcom differs from the model of the German state media authorities primarily through a pronounced practical relevance and an overall economic orientation. In principle, Ofcom regulates cautiously and relies on market forces. For the same reason, it is technology-neutral and only acts where the competition clearly fails to achieve a politically desired result. With a view to the European market (“ TV without frontiers ”), Ofcom relies on greater self-control on the part of broadcasters and fully complies with the requirements from Brussels when it comes to questions of advertising guidelines .

Ofcom also serves to protect media users, citizens and consumers. It is an independent complaints authority for viewers and listeners. The basis is the "Broadcasting Code", in which the rules of media work for all television and radio stations in Great Britain are laid down. Verifiable violations against it can be punished with fines. In June 2008, for example, it fined the radio operator GCap - according to its own information, Great Britain's largest commercial radio operator - with the record fine of 1.1 million pounds. Ofcom had demonstrated with unprecedented tenacity that GCap stations had defrauded in radio competitions.

As a media regulatory authority, According to Tim Suter , member of the Executive Committee of the British regulatory authority, Ofcom does not rely on internal pluralism, but on a broad range of providers. Another important difference is the lack of federal structures such as those that exist in Germany. “I find it difficult to understand how broadcasting should only be regulated at a regional level,” said Suter at the beginning of April 2006 in the context of a colloquium at the Berlin Institute for Media and Communication Policy (IfM). “If cable or satellite television can be received everywhere, regulation should be at the highest possible level. It works very well for us at the national level. ”This is why, in the opinion of Ofcom board member Suter, the federal regulatory model in Germany is outdated in some essentials.

According to Suter, British regulation has already overcome many of the currently unsolved problems in Germany, which is why the English market is at the fore in terms of technology and economy in a European comparison. For the British economy, it was worth it to bundle five regulatory authorities - including the Office of Telecommunications (Oftel, telecommunications regulation), the Broadcasting Standards Council (program complaints ) and the Independent Television Commission (ITC, private television) - as Ofcom. “Our philosophy is competition”, Suter explained in the IfM conversation: “We want the market to regulate itself as far as possible. We come into play where the market has no solutions to offer. "

The BBC , however, has a special role to play in regulatory issues. It pushed back the external regulation originally intended for it: Ofcom only monitors the requirements for the BBC to protect consumers and the quotations to ensure creative diversity; In addition, Ofcom provides the BBC with information on its annual program reports, which, among other things, serve as the basis for the new BBC Charter planned for 2007 .

Ofcom has helped Great Britain change its media law in favor of producers: the rights for films and documentaries usually remain with the authors and no longer automatically pass to the broadcasters, which will only be available for a limited time and for a certain time Distribution channels that can acquire broadcasting rights. In no other European country have so many national productions been broadcast as in England. Because Ofcom is concerned with content and its context, not with distribution channels, it categorically rejects any control of the Internet . Ofcom's principle of “light touch regulation” also excludes press and advertising, the monitoring of which is left to the Independent Press Standards Organization (until 2014: Press Complaints Commission ) or the Advertising Standards Association .

Ofcom began operating in December 2003 under the Communications Act passed by the Blair government . The non-state super agency currently employs 801 people and has a total budget of £ 133 million (financial year 2005/06). Ofcom is financed by license fees from broadcasters and service providers and a grant from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (DTI) for the regulation and administration of the frequency spectrum.

Web links