To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will divide the functions of Ofcom into separate regulators for telecommunications and media in order to avoid potential conflicts of interest within Ofcom. [HL2156]
In 2003, the Office of Communications (Ofcom) replaced the functions and duties of five separate regulatory bodies—the Broadcasting Standards Commission, the Independent Television Commission, the Office of Telecommunications, the Radio Authority, and the Radiocommunications Agency. This was done in response to convergence in the telecoms, broadcasting and radio spectrum markets and the need for joined-up regulation in those markets. After five years there are no plans to reintroduce separation.
Under the Communications Act 2003, Ofcom has the power to regulate the UK's broadcasting, telecommunications and wireless communications sectors. It also allows Ofcom to set and enforce rules on fair competition between companies in these industries.
Procedures have been put in place to deal with potential conflicts of interest. These are that in general no member of Ofcom may have interests in companies where a significant part of their activities are those of an Ofcom-regulated company. If a member is in a position where they do have a conflict of interest, then such member will be advised by the corporation secretary on appropriate action to take. This can include a redaction from part of a meeting, disposal of an interest or resigning from a role. A register of all members' interests is available and published on Ofcom's website at www.ofcom.org.uk/about/csg/.