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Communications Act 2003

Section 198: Functions of OFCOM in relation to the BBC

425.This section provides for OFCOM to have the function of regulating the BBC’s services to the extent that there is provision for them to do so in the BBC Charter and Agreement (as defined by section 362(1)), in this Act and in Part 5 of the Broadcasting Act 1996 (that is, in relation to unfairness and unwarranted infringement of privacy). For the purposes of that regulatory function, OFCOM may, where authorised by the Charter and Agreement, act on behalf of the Secretary of State.

426.The existing Agreement between the Secretary of State and the BBC supplements the Royal Charter in setting out in more detail the provision and content of the BBC’s services. It is intended that the Agreement will be amended to give effect to the new regulatory obligations placed on the BBC and to provide for OFCOM to impose financial penalties in the event of the BBC failing to comply with them. Under subsection (3) of this section, the BBC are required to pay to OFCOM any penalties which OFCOM impose for contraventions of provision made by or under Part 3 of the Act or the Charter and Agreement. The maximum penalty that OFCOM may impose under such a power is £250,000, but the Secretary of State will be able to change this figure by order: subsections (5) to (7). The BBC must also pay to OFCOM such sums in respect of the carrying out of OFCOM’s functions in relation to the BBC as may be agreed between the BBC and OFCOM (or, in the absence of agreement, set by the Secretary of State): subsection (4).

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