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Communications Act 2003

Section 38: Fixing of charges

97.This section gives OFCOM a power to require providers of particular designated networks, services or associated facilities, universal service providers designated by regulations under section 66 for the purposes of conditions relating to directories and directory enquiry facilities, suppliers of apparatus to whom SMP apparatus conditions apply (under section 93) and also persons to whom the electronic communications code has been applied who do not provide a designated electronic communications network (under section 106(4)), to pay a yearly administrative charge. Any such charges should be set by OFCOM in accordance with pre-determined “charging principles”, designed to ensure that the aggregate charges collected in any one year will just cover OFCOM’s costs - in that same year - of carrying out the administrative functions listed in subsection (5). This section implements Articles 6(1), 12 and 13 of, and condition 2 of Part A of the Annex to, the Authorisation Directive. It should, however, be noted that although OFCOM are able to collect an administrative charge from a supplier of apparatus to whom an SMP apparatus condition (i.e. a condition set under set under section 45(9)) applies or from a provider of a system of conduits to whom the electronic communications code has been applied, the collection of the administrative charge for these purposes is not part of the implementation of those provisions.

98.Charges must also be objectively justifiable, proportionate and transparent. This implements Article 12(1) of the Authorisation Directive.

99.Subsection (9) obliges OFCOM to publish an annual statement of the aggregate charges collected (or to be collected) for that year, and the corresponding aggregate costs incurred in carrying out their administrative functions. Any deficit or surplus must be taken into account in setting charges for the following year. This implements Article 12(2) of the Authorisation Directive.

100.Paragraph 12 of Schedule 18 (transitional provisions) provides that where any licence fees in respect of licences granted under section 7 of the Telecommunications Act 1984 remain outstanding on the abolition of such licences, that liability is to have effect after the abolition as a liability to pay OFCOM so much of the amount outstanding as does not relate to times after the abolition.

101.For the purpose of ascertaining who is liable to pay an administrative charge, sections 135 and 137(6) enable OFCOM to publish a general demand for information.

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