Communications Act 2003 Explanatory Notes

Section 270: Enforcement of public service remits

583.This section provides for the case where OFCOM conclude that a provider of a licensed public service channel or the public teletext provider has failed to fulfil its public service remit, or has not contributed adequately to the general requirements for public service broadcasting. If OFCOM are of the opinion that this failure is serious, and cannot be excused by reference to economic or market conditions, OFCOM may exercise their powers under this section. Before doing so, OFCOM must also consider the factors set out in subsection (3) regarding the provider’s remit and more general performance.

584.OFCOM may have recourse to a number of powers. Subsection (4) provides that OFCOM may direct that the provider amend his policy statement as directed, and may direct that the provider remedy its failure to fulfil satisfactorily its public service obligations. Such directions are to be accompanied by a reasonable timetable for compliance and guidance as to how OFCOM will decide whether the failure has been remedied and whether they will exercise their powers under subsection (6).

585.If OFCOM are satisfied that their directions have not been complied with, that the provider is still failing its public service remit, and that this reasonably merits variation of the provider’s licence, they may replace the self-regulatory regime described in the notes above with more detailed regulation (subsection (6)). In other words, the conditions set under sections 265 to 269 would be replaced by specific conditions set by OFCOM in order to ensure that the provider fulfils its public service remit.

586.One of the general objectives of the Act is that OFCOM be required to review continually the need for regulation in the sector, ensuring that unnecessary regulatory burdens are neither imposed nor maintained. In accordance with this de-regulatory approach, subsection (8) gives OFCOM the power, having previously exercised their powers in accordance with subsection (6), to vary again a provider’s licence in order to reinstate the conditions imposed under sections 265 to 269, and to remove or amend any specific conditions that were inserted in their place.

587.Before giving any direction, or exercising any of their powers, under this section, OFCOM shall consult the provider affected.

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