UK Minister for Culture Tessa Jowell will today [Wednesday] battle to win parliamentary time for the already delayed legislation needed to establish Ofcom, the new telecoms and media regulator, by 2003.
The Communications Bill, which was expected to have been published last month, has been held up by the Government's logjam of proposed bills, due to be heard in Parliament.
The problem has been exacerbated by the failure of the Department of Trade and Industry and the Culture Department to agree a strategy for the Bill, even though both departments are in broad agreement over what it should achieve.
The new regulator will have both the emerging digital TV and broadband markets to oversee, and faces tough decisions on the role of public service broadcasting.
The state-funded BBC wants the go ahead for ambitious plans to launch digital TV and radio services, plans that have been slammed by the commercial sector for replicating what they already provide.
Should the Bill be squeezed out of the new parliamentary running order, a shadow unofficial regulator could be set up in its place, but would be severely lacking in teeth.
Such a decision would be a bitter blow for Jowell, who wants Ofcom's powers to be enshrined in statute.
A decision on the Bill's timetable is expected on Friday.
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