Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM)
OFCOM, the acronym for the Federal Office of Communications, is the governmental oversight agency for all communications in the United Kingdom. It effectively serves the same public service oversight as the Federal Communications Commission in the United States, but is actually a consolidation of five different agencies that operated prior to its establishment by the Office of Communications Act of Parliament of 2002, largely to handle the impact of the Internet Reformation. The agency is supposedly independent but its history shows its primary function is enforcing the orthodoxy of the British elite, including its emphasis on internationalization and world government.
Broadcast technology oversight had been a split operation before the creation of OFCOM, with television and radio being overseen by different agencies. The centralization of these multiple agencies concentrated a major amount of power into the hands of the management figures. This became increasingly apparent in 2009 when the former OFCOM Chief Operations Officer, Justin Whitehouse, was charged and eventually convicted of fraud for transferring OFCOM funds in the amount of over 522K British pounds to an account of a company that he actually owned. The transfers supposedly began as a protective account for software rights funds, but the former OFCOM COO was issuing illegitimate bills to make the transfers appear legal.
OFCOM does not attempt to control unlicensed broadcasters who use signals that do not originate in the UK. It investigates frequency piracy as a complaint, but primarily focuses on legitimate jurisdictional broadcasters. That is not to say that OFCOM does not officially represent the UK government. An example of this jurisdictional breakdown is the recent attempts to silence Press TV Limited Production Company that produces and supplies programming for the Iranian state-approved broadcaster Press TV.
The effort to restrain the production company is a fundamental free speech violation in the UK, but OFCOM nonetheless has embarked on a policy of chilling the informational format and content of the Iranian company, which is perceived by some to be involved in a contentious relationship with the Western world and Israel. Controlling problematic content is clearly stated in the mission statement of OFCOM, but is generally delegated to decency standards similar to those in the United States. OFCOM has appeared to extend that power to the "free marketplace of ideas" by blocking the financial resources of Press TV Limited.
Other major complaints against OFCOM include the unwillingness of the "corporation" to investigate complaints against advertisers who are making false claims or non-provable statements. One primary complaint is that OFCOM moves much too slowly for any real resolutions to be implemented and the issues often go away before they are addressed. But when the issue is embarrassing national information, the priorities are re-assessed and action is swift. The question becomes whose interests OFCOM is truly serving. The general perception is OFCOM is protecting the populace, but the agency only reacts effectively in issues of informational national emergency. This includes situational denial.
OFCOM maintains its headquarters in London but has regional directors in all countries that comprise the United Kingdom. The explosion of the Internet has put OFCOM in a difficult position to keep content under control. It is becoming overwhelmingly clear that the Internet is proving to be more than governmental oversight can control, short of illegally implementing prior restraint as an official branch of the UK government.
News & Analysis
|05/25/11||Iran's Press TV Comes Under Attack in Britain|