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Communications Act 2003

Section 219: Licensing of the public teletext service

480.The public teletext service is to be licensed under Part 1 of the Broadcasting Act 1990, subject to the restrictions and conditions set out in this section. For example, subsection (5) specifies that OFCOM must include in the public teletext service licence a condition prohibiting the imposition of charges for the reception of the licensed service in the United Kingdom.

481.Schedule 10 specifies the procedure with which OFCOM must comply when it seeks to award a licence to provide the public teletext service and the conditions to be included in the licence. It also gives OFCOM powers to enforce the conditions included in the public teletext service licence.

482.When OFCOM propose to award a licence to provide a public teletext service, they must publish (along with general guidance) a notice that sets out the information listed in paragraph 1(2). OFCOM must include the additional information listed in paragraph 1(3) if the teletext service must be provided in analogue form.

483.Any application made in response to a notice published by OFCOM must be accompanied by the appropriate fee and must also include the information listed in paragraph 3(1), e.g. a technical plan indicating the nature of the service proposed to be provided. OFCOM may require the applicant to provide further information once they have received the application. Following the closing date for applications, OFCOM must then publish the name of each applicant along with certain details of each application as described in paragraph 4(1). OFCOM must also invite the public to make representations.

484.Before OFCOM may consider whether to award a public teletext service licence to an applicant, they must find that: (i) the applicant’s technical plan and its proposals relating to the fulfilment of the public service remit for the public teletext service, the inclusion and updating of news items and the inclusion of material of interest to different communities in the United Kingdom are acceptable to them; and (ii) the provision of the proposed services can be maintained during the licence term. OFCOM must then award the licence in accordance with sections 17 and 17A of the Broadcasting Act 1990 (as modified by this Schedule).

485.Paragraph 6 permits OFCOM to revoke and re-award a public teletext service licence when the licensee indicates that he does not intend to provide the service or OFCOM have reasonable grounds to believe that the licensee will not provide the service. Before revoking a licence, OFCOM must serve a notice on the licensee and offer him a reasonable opportunity to submit representations.

486.Paragraph 7 requires OFCOM to include in a public teletext service licence conditions requiring payment of the following determined in accordance with Schedule 10, during the licence term: an annual amount, increased by an appropriate percentage, and a specified percentage of the qualifying revenue for each accounting period of the licensee falling within the licence term. Payments required under these conditions are in addition to those required by OFCOM under section 4(1)(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1990.

  • *Appropriate percentage has the same meaning as in section 19 of the Broadcasting Act 1990 (i.e. it takes account of inflation).

487.OFCOM may also include conditions permitting them to estimate the amount of payments due from the licence holder during an accounting period and requiring him to make monthly interim payments. Conditions permitting OFCOM to revise their estimate and the monthly interim payments made by the licence holder and to make adjustments for any over- or under payment made may also be included.

488.Paragraph 8 provides that section 40 of the Broadcasting Act 1990 (power to direct correction or statement of findings) has effect in relation to the public teletext service.

489.Paragraphs 9 and 10 confer on OFCOM the power to enforce the conditions included in the public teletext service licence. Where OFCOM are satisfied that a licence holder has contravened a condition of the licence or has failed to comply with a direction given by OFCOM under the Broadcasting Acts 1990 or 1996 or Part 3 of this Act, they may impose a penalty and/or reduce the term of the licence by up to two years. Licences may also be revoked for contraventions of licence conditions or directions. Where OFCOM do not revoke the licence they may fine the offender up to 5 per cent of the qualifying revenue for its last complete accounting period.

490.Before imposing a penalty or reducing the term of the public teletext service licence, OFCOM must notify the licence holder and provide him with a reasonable opportunity to make representations. A licence may be revoked where OFCOM are satisfied that the conduct of the licence holder justifies its revocation.

491.Where OFCOM decide to revoke a public teletext service licence, they must also notify the former licence holder of the penalty that he must pay. A maximum fine (whichever is the greater) of either £500,000 or 7 per cent of either the estimated or actual qualifying revenue may be imposed. The Secretary of State can modify the amount of the maximum fine by order.

  • *“qualifying revenue” is defined for the purposes of this Schedule in paragraph 15.

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