What is Ofcom?
Ofcom is the communications regulator in the UK.
We regulate the TV, radio and video on demand sectors, fixed line telecoms, mobiles, postal services, plus the airwaves over which wireless devices operate.
We make sure that people in the UK get the best from their communications services and are protected from scams and sharp practices, while ensuring that competition can thrive.
Ofcom operates under a number of Acts of Parliament, including in particular the Communications Act 2003. Ofcom must act within the powers and duties set for it by Parliament in legislation.
The Communications Act says that Ofcom’s principal duty is to further the interests of citizens and of consumers, where appropriate by promoting competition. Meeting this duty is at the heart of everything we do.
Accountable to Parliament, we set and enforce regulatory rules for the sectors for which we have responsibility. We also have powers to enforce competition law in those sectors, alongside the Competition and Markets Authority.
Ofcom is funded by fees from industry for regulating broadcasting and communications networks, and grant-in-aid from the Government.
What we do
Our main legal duties are to ensure:
- the UK has a wide range of electronic communications services, including high-speed services such as broadband;
- a wide range of high-quality television and radio programmes are provided, appealing to a range of tastes and interests;
- television and radio services are provided by a range of different organisations;
- people who watch television and listen to the radio are protected from harmful or offensive material;
- people are protected from being treated unfairly in television and radio programmes, and from having their privacy invaded;
- viewers of video on demand services are protected from harmful content;
- a universal postal service is provided in the UK - this means a six days a week, universally priced delivery and collection service across the country; and
- the radio spectrum (the airwaves used by everyone from taxi firms and boat owners, to mobile-phone companies and broadcasters) is used in the most effective way.
What we do not do
We are not responsible for regulating:
- disputes between you and your telecoms provider;
- premium-rate services, including mobile-phone text services and ringtones;
- the content of television and radio adverts;
- complaints about accuracy in BBC programmes;
- the BBC TV licence fee;
- post offices; or
- newspapers and magazines.