The Consumers? Association has thrown its weight behind calls for a single communications regulator that would protect users? rights in both telecomms and broadcast sectors.
In a report entitled 'Communications Regulation - making the right connections', the pressure group said such a regulator should combine the economic controls of the Independent Television Commission (ITC) and telecomms watchdog Oftel and regulate new communications media and the BBC.
The individual or panel of regulators would have indirect control of Internet content although this could continue to be managed by its own regulatory bodies such as the Internet Watch Foundation and the UK?s ISP Association, explained Benet Middleton, acting head of policy research at the Consumers? Association.
Middleton conceded that a single regulator ran the risk of becoming over powerful but said it should be made accountable. ?It should be made sure that they operate in a transparent way and there is an appeals mechanism in place,? he said. There should also be an open appointments procedure and external monitoring of the regulatory body.
The report clearly states the Association's position on the debate over whether the government should establish an Office of Communications, which could combine Oftel with the ITC. The debate was given further initiative when the director general of Oftel, Don Cruickshank, said yesterday he is not seeking a further term in office after his contract expires in March.
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