Ofcom facing Tory axe

By Julian Clover

July 6, 2009

Ofcom could have its activities severely restricted or be broken up altogether under new plans put forward today by the opposition Conservative party.

Tory leader David Cameron says the media regulator would be stripped of its policy making role under a wider review of the UK’s 790 quangos (quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations) that cost an estimated £35 billion to run. Under the plans Ofcom would be restricted to its technical and enforcement functions.

“Give Ofcom, or give a new body, the technical function of handing out the licences and regulating lightly the content that is on the screens,” Cameron told BBC News. “But it shouldn’t be making policy, it shouldn’t have its own communications department, the head of Ofcom is paid almost half a million pounds.”

On its creation in January 2004, Ofcom was heralded as the new super-regulator, bringing together the Independent Television Commission, the Radio Authority, the Broadcasting Standards Commission, the Office of Telecommunications (Oftel) and the Radiotelecommunications Agency.