Super regulator to control TV and telecoms

Patricia Hodgson, the former director of policy at the BBC, is poised to become one of the most powerful women in Britain thanks to a radical overhaul of the regulation of telecoms and television companies.

Patricia Hodgson, the former director of policy at the BBC, is poised to become one of the most powerful women in Britain thanks to a radical overhaul of the regulation of telecoms and television companies.

The Independent on Sunday has learned that the centrepiece of the Government's communications White Paper, due out next month, will be the creation of one body, expected to be headed by Ms Hodgson, that will oversee the regulation of all commercial television and telecommunications.

The White Paper will call for the Independent Television Commission, which licenses digital and terrestrial commercial TV, telecoms regulator Oftel and content watchdog Broadcasting Standards Commission to be merged into a single "super regulator".

It is also understood that Chris Smith, the Culture Secretary, is planning to snub the BBC by stripping its governors of their regulatory powers. He is livid at their failure to prevent BBC director-general Greg Dyke from moving the Nine O'Clock News to a later slot. The regulation of the BBC will now come under the new body.

The move will create a new post as head of one of Britain's most powerful regulators, employing more than 400 people with an annual budget of around £35m.

Ms Hodgson, now head of the ITC, has emerged as front-runner for the job. She is understood to have impressed ministers with her tough lobbying to bring back ITV's News at Ten. However, some observers predict that the Government may opt for a fresh face. When the gas and electricity regulators were merged to form Ofgem, for example, the Government appointed former merchant banker Callum McCarthy to head it.

The rank outsider for the post is Dave Edmonds, the embattled director-general of Oftel. In the past month he has come under fire over the regulation of British Telecom and the way the former state-owned company it is opening its monopoly on high speed internet access.

This has led to accusations that Oftel had fallen victim to the "captured regulator" problem - a variation of the "Stockholm Syndrome", where hostages are converted to the cause of their captors.

"What we are witnessing with Oftel is a sad example of regulatory failure," said Tim Conway, a director of CSSA, an IT industry body. He added that Britain will lag behind the US and Europe as a result .

The new regulator - already dubbed Ofcom - will be set up as the boundaries between internet and media companies blur. The most prominent example is the merger of internet service provider AOL and media giant Time Warner. Analysts predict that PCs and internet-enabled mobile phones will increasingly be used to access broadcast media.

Chris Bright, of law firm Clifford Chance, said: "With the advances in technology, the system of regulation is a nightmare. Sometimes there is an issue all the regulators want ownership of and on other occasions no one is interested. It's a shambles and urgently needs reform."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Guru Careers: Senior Account Manager / SAM

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: A Senior Account Manager / SAM is needed to join the ...

Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Manager (EMEA) - City, London

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Manager...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine