OfCom, the UK broadcast regulator, will regulate the BBC, starting April 3. The BBC is getting rid of its BBC Trust, its internal regulator, and instead outsourcing to OfCom after an independent review last year called for “fundamental reform,” the BBC confirmed to iMediaEthics.
“Regulation of the BBC will sit within OfCom’s existing teams and will focus on three core areas as laid out in the Charter: content standards; protecting fair and effective competition; and reviewing the BBC’s performance,” according to OfCom.
Viewers first must complain to the BBC then go to OfCom to complain if the BBC doesn’t satisfactorily resolve the issue, iMediaEthics confirmed with OfCom.
The independent review led by Sir David Clementi found
“The BBC Trust model is flawed. It conflates governance and regulatory functions within the Trust. The BBC should have a unitary Board charged with responsibility for meeting the obligations placed on it under the Royal Charter and Agreement, and responsibility for the interests of Licence Fee payers.
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“Regulatory oversight should pass wholly to Ofcom, which is already the public service regulator for the UK’s broadcasting industry and has the ability to look at the BBC in the context of the market as a whole. Ofcom would be a strong regulator to match a strong BBC.”
According to Financial Times, “The broadcaster’s new 11-year charter, set out in a white paper published in May, abolished the BBC Trust and handed BBC regulation to Ofcom.” This means the regulation will next be reviewed in 2028.
The Telegraph reported in January that the BBC and OfCom were still working out the details of payment for regulation. OfCom wants to have “double the number of staff the BBC Trust…currently employs to regulate,” which will, of course, cost more money.
OfCom told the Telegraph, “Ofcom’s new duties go beyond those of the BBC Trust.” The BBC told iMediaEthics, “there are currently seven members of staff within the Trust who have a role in handling complaints, in a mixture of full-time and part-time roles. These posts also cover some other responsibilities, so are not solely dedicated to complaints work.”