(IV) THE TRANSITION TO AND CULTURE OF
96. General provision relating to the transition
from the existing regulators to OFCOM has already been made under
the Office of Communications Act 2002. The draft Bill contains
further provisions relating to the transfer of functions and property
from those regulators to OFCOM.
The final Bill will contain additional Clauses on this subject,
relating in particular to the position of staff.
We are aware that the current regulators have concerns both about
the welfare of their own staff and about the integrity of their
own regulatory functions during the transitional period, but the
Government has decided that such Clauses should await the opportunity
to consult OFCOM when it is established, and in their absence
we have decided not to comment further on staffing matters.
97. We are, however, concerned that the transition
from the existing regulators to OFCOM should be as smooth and
transparent as possible in the interests of both OFCOM and those
subject to regulation. Section 4 of the Office of Communications
Act 2002 places a duty on the existing regulators to carry out
their functions in a way that enables OFCOM to perform its own
functions effectively when the baton is handed over. Clause 21
reinforces this requirement and specifically obliges existing
regulators to comply with directions by the Secretaries of State
on this matter. We consider these provisions ought to be strengthened
in a way that provides a more direct role for OFCOM. We recommend
that OFCOM, under the general powers vested in it by section 2
of the Office of Communications Act 2002, publish for consultation
initial statements of intention regarding the fulfilment of the
regulatory functions it will assume under the Communications Bill.
We further recommend that Clause 21 be amended to require the
pre-commencement regulators to have regard to such statements
in fulfilling their functions before they pass to OFCOM.
98. We received some evidence relating to the internal
structures of OFCOM and in particular about the place of radio
in those structures.
Many of these comments relate to proposals in the Towers Perrin
Report commissioned by the existing regulators as a basis for
guidance to the incoming Board of OFCOM. In the time available,
we have not examined these proposals in detail, but we question
whether the suggestions of the Towers Perrin Report provide an
entirely satisfactory design for the new Board of OFCOM to use
in determining OFCOM's internal structure. In particular, we are
profoundly sceptical about the case for a separate radio group
in the internal structure of OFCOM.
99. It is the stated policy of the Government that
OFCOM "needs to be designed from new" and "needs
to amount to much more than bringing together five bodies with
a new name - it will need to embody a new organisational vision,
have the right internal structure, the right work processes and
above all the right people".
Patricia Hewitt told us that she and Tessa Jowell "have
been absolutely clear from the outset of this that we are not
creating a body that is simply front door marked 'OFCOM' with
five silos behind it, each effectively with the name, culture,
traditions and personnel of the existing regulator. If that were
to be what happened, it would indeed be a failure of the reform
We wholeheartedly agree. If OFCOM becomes little more than
an agglomeration of the existing regulators - badge engineering
for five regulators under one roof - then the process of establishing
OFCOM will have failed.
100. We have explored ways in which OFCOM can establish
its own distinct regulatory culture. Some recommendations we have
already made - relating to OFCOM's principal duty, the promptness
and transparency of its work and the duty on OFCOM to regulate
at the minimum level compatible with its general duties - have
precisely this aim in mind. A similar purpose has informed some
of our later recommendations relating specifically to economic
and content regulation. However, in the end, the onus in this
area will lie on the Chairman when he or she is appointed, on
the Chief Executive and on the new Board to ensure that OFCOM
truly fulfils its purpose as a single regulator for the converging
communications sector. We urge the Chairman of OFCOM, as an
early priority upon appointment, to review the provisional arrangements
put in place prior to that appointment, to ensure that his or
her hands are not tied by assumptions made by existing regulators.
The incoming Chairman needs a clean slate in order to create a
200 Clauses 20 and 21 and Schedules 2 and 12. Back
Policy, paras 3.7.1 - 3.7.3. Back
QQ 60, 61, 75. Back
QQ 55, 63, 78, 79, 718; Ev 20, para 2; Ev 244; Ev 249, paras 29-30. Back
Policy, para 3.4.1. Back
Q 977. Back