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Thursday, 25 July, 2002, 13:56 GMT 14:56 UK
Ofcom chairman's role
Brass Eye
Controversial shows could be be scrutinised by the watchdog
Lord Currie will be one of the most influential people in the UK media when he becomes the first chairman of the new super-regulator, Ofcom.

Under his guidance, the body will be charged with making sure TV and radio stations maintain their standards and diversity, and will play a large part in deciding which mergers and acquisitions get the green light.

Lord Currie
Lord Currie will be paid 133,000 per year
The one body will take over the roles currently filled by five different regulators in the TV, radio and telecommunications fields - giving it far-reaching powers.

It is being created to impose a "light touch" regulation on the sector, and will come into force in autumn 2003.

One of Lord Currie's first tasks will be to choose the body's board and chief executive in time to oversee the introduction of the new Communications Bill.

The Ofcom board will be "small and lean, with the right experience and first-rate skills", the government has said.

He will then be in charge of bringing the five existing regulators together.

TV and radio companies across the UK have watched the appointment with interest because Lord Currie and Ofcom will have a big say in who can own what in the industry.

The body will have the final say on mergers and acquisitions - unless the cases are referred to the Competition Commission.

Ofcom's general duties
Further the interests of viewers and listeners
Promote competition
Secure a wide range of TV and radio services available across the UK
Secure protection against offensive and harmful material
Ensure protection against unfair treatment and invasions of privacy
That means it will have a pivotal role in whether Rupert Murdoch could buy Channel 5, as has been reported, whether the two ITV giants Granada and Carlton can merge, and what mergers and acquisitions are allowed in the commercial radio market.

Ofcom will also advise the government every three years on whether it needs to revise ownership laws.

As far as programmes are concerned, Ofcom will make sure that broadcasters adhere to certain standards, such as making sure there are a certain number of news and religious programmes on each broadcaster.

It will take over from the Broadcasting Standards Commission and Independent Television Commission's ability to censure broadcasters over sex and violence complaints.


It will also inherit the ability to fine or even revoke the licence of broadcasters who break the rules.

It will be given more powers over the BBC than any regulator has ever had in the past - but not as much as it has over commercial broadcasters.

Although the BBC governors will keep their role as regulators of the corporation's output, Ofcom is expected to make sure it adheres to certain public service standards.

Ofcom will also be responsible for making the most efficient possible use of the valuable radio and TV spectrums.

Setting up Ofcom

See also:

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