Archive for the ‘Ofcom’ Category

Ofcom to axe 170 staff as budget is cut by £30m

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Ofcom is being forced to shed up to 170 staff, nearly one in five employees, and slash its spending by £30m as part of swingeing cuts to meet the public sector deficit.

Ed Richards: Ofcom chief executive

Ed Richards: Ofcom chief executive

Staff at the media regulator were told of the proposals today by chief executive Ed Richards, who said the organisation needed to “re-focus” because of spending constraints.

The proposal means 170 of Ofcom’s 870 staff members will exit. Staff have now entered a 90-day consultation period.

Ofcom has offices in London, as well as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

A spokesman for Ofcom said the cuts were across the organisation, though Richard’s role as chief executive will not be impacted.

Ofcom currently employs a range of professions, including advisors, administrators, call-centre handlers, and back-office workers. Its current funding cap of £143m will be reduced to £112.7m by 2015 as part of the government-prompted cuts.

It says the reduction will deliver 28.2% real terms savings.

The job and budget cuts follow last week’s announcement by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport outlining plans to strip Ofcom of a number of powers as part of the government’s efficiency drive, including returning the policy-setting role to the secretary of state.

Richards said: “These are difficult times for everyone in the public sector and it is right that Ofcom plays its part meeting the challenge facing the public finances.

“We also need to re-focus in the light of changing markets and technological developments, and of course in respect of the budgetary constraints. This is why we have taken the initiative and today set out detailed proposals for both reducing expenditure and achieving greater strategic focus and organisational effectiveness.

“I am absolutely confident that Ofcom will emerge leaner, stronger, and fully able to build on its excellent track record of delivering benefits for citizens and consumers.”

DIGITAL BRITAIN: Government sets 2015 as digital radio switchover date

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

All radio stations broadcasting on national and local DAB multiplexes will cease being broadcast via FM by the end of 2015, according to the Digital Britain report (16 June 2009).

DIGITAL BRITAIN: Government sets 2015 as digital radio switchover date

FM spectrum freed up by the switchover will be used for a new tier of “ultra-local” commercial services and community stations, the report added.

Radio licensing legislation needed to enable digital coverage to be extended and to encourage investment by the commercial sector – and the BBC – in new digital content, will be put in place.

In the report presented to the House today by Ben Bradshaw, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the Government said it recognised the investment needed to achieve the Digital Radio Upgrade timetable will have to be made by the existing radio companies.

Currently, new licences run only for three or four years and the Government proposes to grant Ofcom new powers to extend the licence period of all national and local licences, broadcasting on DAB, for up to a further seven years.

To achieve the 2015 switchover date, the report proposes the BBC extend its national DAB coverage so it is at least comparable to its FM output.

In addition to providing for low-cost digital radios, the report includes a recommendation that all new car radios be digital by the end of 2013 and sets out a five- point plan to support the uptake of digital radio in cars. The Government plans to:

  • Work with manufacturers to ensure that vehicles sold with radio are digitally enabled by the end of 2013
  • Support a common logo for digital radios and ensure that non-DAB radios, and their limitations, are clearly labelled
  • Encourage the development of portable digital converters, such as the Pure Highway, and the integration of DAB into other vehicle devices such as Sat Navs
  • Promote the introduction of more sophisticated traffic information via DAB and comprehensive marketing by broadcasters
  • Work with European partners, including the European Commission, to develop a common European approach to digital radio.  The report said: “We have approached the European Commission to encourage them to lead a community-wide effort. Such an approach, as was adopted in digital television, could provide certainty well in advance for vehicle manufacturers and those providing in-car devices to bring the unit price of conversion down.”

Andrew Harrison, chief executive of industry body RadioCentre, said he welcomed the target date of 2015 and added that the provisions of the Digital Britain report would enable RadioCentre’s members to plan and invest for their future.

The Government has asked Ofcom to consult on a new map of mini-regions for Digital Radio. In addition, by the end of August, the Government will publish a community radio consultation document, seeking views on changes to the current licensing regime.

In the Interim Report, released in January, the Government set out two migration criteria: when 50% of listening is to digital; and when national DAB coverage is comparable to FM coverage, and local DAB reaches 90% of the population and all major roads.

In the report released today, the Government said the precise switchover date would be formally announced two years in advance but it was confident it could achieve its target of 50% of all radio listening via digital by the end of 2013.