Ofcom’s chief executive has told RTS Cambridge that independence is a part of its DNA, because what the regulator does is make decisions that get challenged in the courts.
Melanie Dawes had been asked about the furore surrounding the appointment of Ofcom’s new chairman. The prime minister’s preferred candidate, the newspaper executive Paul Dacre, who’s views on the future of broadcasting reflect the government’s agenda, has already been rejected by an appointment board, but has not yet been ruled out of a second round.
“It’s important that in television and radio the decisions that we’re making are about freedom of speech. That raises very important democratic questions about people’s fundamental right to freedom of expression and how you weigh those against the need to uphold standards in the Broadcasting Code,” she said.
Addressing the government’s proposals to privatise Channel 4, Dawes said the ecology of public service broadcasting and media organisations the UK has got was unique.
“No other country’ has got commercial players operating off a government balance sheet like Channel 4 alongside another public broadcaster. However, she said Ofcom should hold back from the debate around the broadcaster and be ready to inform it. “Those questions about remit, and what we want, we should be really clear about that. There may well be implications for different models of how you would meet that and what you would be able to achieve.”