OFCOM

Ofcom Contact Number – 0300 123 3333

Ofcom Helpline – 0300 123 3333

Ofcom is the government-approved regulatory body for the communications industry in the UK. The sectors it regulates are telecommunications, broadcasting, postal services and radio airwaves.

Ofcom is responsible for protecting UK citizens and consumers by putting in place codes of practice to ensure quality standards in broadcasting, and by making sure there is enough competition in all communications sectors to offer sufficient choice to the public. It has the power to set and enforce rules and regulations governing the communications industry, and can enforce competition laws.

The history of Ofcom

Ofcom was established in 2002 under the Office of Communications Act. It was created to combine the duties of five different regulatory bodies: the Office of Telecommunications (Oftel), the Broadcasting Standards Commission, the Independent Television Commission, the Radio Authority and the Radiocommunications Agency.

Ofcom Telephone Number – 0300 123 3333

Its remit was subsequently expanded in 2011 when it took over the duties of the Postal Services Commission in regulating UK postal service provision. In January 2016 it was also granted regulatory powers over the video-on-demand sector.

Ofcom’s main responsibilities

Ofcom has a wide variety of responsibilities across all communications sectors in the UK. Its main duties include:

  • Promoting competition throughout all UK communications sectors wherever appropriate. This is to ensure that UK citizens have sufficient choice of companies that could provide them with services such as phone and broadband, and that television and radio programming is produced by a variety of different organisations.
  • Licensing all commercial television and radio services in the UK.
  • Protecting UK consumers from scams and unfair practices by communications providers.
  • Making sure a wide variety of interests and preferences are catered for by television and radio service providers.
  • Protecting the UK public from offensive and/ or harmful content on television, radio and video-on-demand. Ofcom is responsible for publishing the Broadcasting Code, which contains the rules that all UK television and radio broadcast content must adhere to. This includes the stipulation that any content deemed unsuitable for children cannot be broadcast between the hours of 5.30am and 9.00pm, unless it is PIN protected. If viewers or listeners complain about a programme, Ofcom will view it to determine whether or not it is in breach of the code.
  • Protecting UK citizens from having their privacy invaded or being treated unfairly by television and radio service providers.
  • Ensuring the UK has a wide range of electronic communications services including high-speed broadband.
  • Making sure a postal service is available six days a week in the UK, and that delivery and collection services are universally priced nationwide.
  • Ensuring that the UK radio spectrum is used in the most effective and fair way by all users, including broadcasters, mobile phone companies, taxi companies and boat owners. This part of Ofcom’s remit includes protecting UK citizens from pirate radio broadcasts.

Who does Ofcom report to?

Ofcom is accountable to the UK government and its powers and responsibilities are controlled by Parliamentary legislation. It must operate under several Acts of Parliament, which are:

  • The Communications Act 2003
  • The Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006
  • The Broadcasting Acts 1990 and 1996
  • The Digital Economy Act 2010
  • The Postal Services Act 2011

Under these Acts, Ofcom has a variety of legal responsibilities that it must adhere to. These include the constant research of all communications markets, and keeping up with the latest technological advancements in the communications industry. It is obliged to consult regularly with all stakeholders and make sure the impact of any legislation has been assessed thoroughly before it is imposed.

As Ofcom is a public authority, it also has to comply with the Data Protection Act. It can be approached with Freedom of Information requests, but all such requests are subsequently published online.

How Ofcom is run

Ofcom’s main decisions are made by the Ofcom Board, which is responsible for the strategy and direction of the organisation. Its work is advised and overseen by a number of other Boards and Committees which operate throughout the UK and make sure different demographics are getting fair communication services provision, such as older people, disabled people, and the citizens of the different nations that make up the UK.

Ofcom is funded by fees that come from industry for regulating broadcasting and communications networks, and by government grant aid.

How to contact Ofcom

You should contact Ofcom if you have a complaint that is covered by its remit.

Ofcom can be contacted by post at:

Ofcom

Riverside House

2a Southwark Bridge Road

London SE1 9HA

To make a complaint by telephone in English, call 0300 123 3333 or 020 7981 3040. Telephone complaints in Welsh can be made on 020 7981 3042.

All phone lines are open Monday-Friday, 9.00am-5.00pm.

To complain about phone or internet service provision, you can visit https://www.ofcom.org.uk/phones-telecoms-and-internet/how-to-report-a-complaint

To report issues or make a complaint about television, radio or on-demand services or programming, visit https://www.ofcom.org.uk/tv-radio-and-on-demand/how-to-report-a-complaint.