Policies and guidelines

Published: 8 September 2023

A list of Ofcom's policies and guidelines.

Our enforcement guidelines explain how we investigate compliance with and approach enforcement of regulatory requirements relating to electronic communications networks and services, postal services, consumer protection legislation, competition law and certain competition-related conditions in broadcast licences.

Enforcement guidelines for regulatory investigations

Enforcement guidelines for Competition Act investigations (PDF, 1007.1 KB)

Procedures for investigating breaches of competition-related conditions in Broadcasting Act licences (PDF, 784.7 KB)

Advice for complainants (PDF, 186.1 KB)

At Ofcom we are determined to promote diversity and equality inside our organisation and in the wider sectors we regulate.

Ofcom understands that we are in challenging times in terms of global environmental impacts. We all have a part to play in addressing threats to our planet natural systems and biodiversity. Ofcom is therefore committed to assessing, understanding, and finally improving its environmental performance.

Read Ofcom's Environmental Policy

Ofcom is committed to providing a fair, transparent, impartial and accessible service for all of its stakeholders. However, we have to ensure that we provide a safe working environment for our colleagues and that we are able to work efficiently and effectively.

On occasions, individuals (whether members of the public, or individuals representing an organisation, such as a regulated company or supplier) may make unreasonable demands or demonstrate unreasonable behaviour. Our unacceptable behaviour policy (PDF, 169.2 KB) explains how we may manage contact with that stakeholder.

In accordance with our legal obligations, our General Privacy Statement sets out the information you need to know about the way in which Ofcom will collect, process and store your personal data, how long we will keep it for, your rights in connection with that data, and the people with whom we may need to share it.

We recognise that the decisions we make can deliver significant value for citizens and consumers but can also impose significant costs on our stakeholders. It is therefore important for us to think carefully before deciding whether a particular policy intervention may be appropriate.

We use impact assessments to help us understand and assess the potential impact of our policy decisions before we make them. Our impact assessment guidance sets out our general approach to how we assess and present the impact of our proposed decisions.

Impact Assessment Guidance (PDF, 406.7 KB)

Ofcom has launched the Information Registry to strengthen the way we collect and manage information from organisations we work with.

In line with section 3.8 of Ofcom's Statement of Charging Principles we publish the following list of Networks & Services providers who pay administrative fees. Listed below are all providers who are liable to pay these fees, as set out in the notice of designation. The fees payable remain confidential to the companies concerned and are based on self-certified relevant turnover submissions for the appropriate calendar year as defined in our Statement of Charging Principles.

Networks & Services Providers Billed for 2019/20 Ofcom Administrative Charges (PDF, 247.2 KB)

Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (the Act) requires public authorities, in carrying out their functions relating to Northern Ireland, to have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity and regard to the desirability of promoting good relations across a range of categories outlined in the Act.

Revised Northern Ireland Equality Scheme for Ofcom (PDF, 515.9 KB)
Last updated December 2019

Disability Action Plan for Northern Ireland (PDF, 411.5 KB)
Last updated July 2022

Ofcom takes the fulfilment of its obligations in relation to the Welsh language extremely seriously. We are proud of our commitment and the way in which we integrate the Welsh language into our work on a daily basis – enabling consumers to communicate with Ofcom in the language of their choice, be it in English or Welsh.

Compliance notice

Ofcom’s final compliance notice from the Welsh Language Commissioner has Ofcom’s full support.

Compliance Notice - Section 44 Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 (PDF, 360.3 KB)

Implementation plan

This document states how we intend to comply with the service delivery standards, policy making standards and the operational standards issued to Ofcom by the Welsh Language Commissioner.

Welsh Language Standards - Implementation Plan (PDF, 144.4 KB)

Safonau’r Gymraeg - Cynllun Gweithredu (PDF, 132.7 KB)

Why do we conduct research?

Ofcom is an evidence-based regulator. Market research is important to Ofcom and many of our decisions are informed by research evidence.

The citizen and consumer interest is at the heart of everything Ofcom does. Research ensures that Ofcom has a thorough, robust and up-to-date understanding of consumers in the UK.

We work with independent market research agencies to conduct research among consumers of communications services.

How do we collect data?

Our market intelligence team collects and analyses information from industry; directly, by using our power to make formal requests; and indirectly, by using third-party information sources. It monitors and interprets market developments and industry trends, across the media and telecommunications sectors and other relevant industries, at company, sector, UK and overseas levels.

Where can I find Ofcom’s research and data publications?

We publish our research, so that industry stakeholders and consumers can benefit from it. All our publications are on the website at the research and data section.

These penalty guidelines, published 13 September 2017, replace the penalty guidelines published 3 December 2015.

Section 392 of the Communications Act 2003 (“the Act”) requires Ofcom to prepare and publish a statement containing the guidelines it proposes to follow in determining the amount of penalties imposed by Ofcom under the Act or any other enactment apart from the Competition Act 1998. This statement contains Ofcom’s penalty guidelines 2017 (PDF, 182.9 KB)

Ofcom will generally not pre-disclose its documents to stakeholders ahead of publication. For further information contact the Ofcom analyst relations manager.

This document outlines Ofcom's commitment to maintain records of its activities, the key principles for managing records in all media, and the roles of all colleagues in its management.

Why do we keep records?

Ofcom must maintain a complete set of records for as long as required to:

  • Comply with relevant legislation such as the Public Records Act, Data Protection Act, Freedom of Information Act and the Code of Compliance on Records Management.
  • Provide evidence of Ofcom's activities and decision making
  • Support and defend Ofcom's position in litigation
  • Enhance business efficiency
  • Promote collegiality and knowledge sharing

Find out more about records and information management policy at Ofcom.

When we regulate

Ofcom will operate with a bias against intervention, but with a willingness to intervene promptly and effectively where required.

Ofcom will intervene where there is a specific statutory duty to work towards a goal that markets alone cannot achieve.

How we regulate

Ofcom will always seek the least intrusive regulatory methods of achieving its objectives.

Ofcom will strive to ensure that interventions are evidence-based, proportionate, consistent, accountable and transparent in both deliberation and outcome.

Ofcom will regulate with a clearly articulated and publicly reviewed annual plan, with stated objectives.

How we support regulation

Ofcom will research markets constantly and will aim to remain at the forefront of technological understanding.

Ofcom will consult widely with all relevant stakeholders and assess the impact of regulatory action before imposing regulation on a market.

This document sets out the principles under which Ofcom may retain certain amounts which have been paid to it under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006. It also sets out why, in Ofcom’s view, the provision made for retaining these amounts is likely to secure that such amounts are objectively justifiable and proportionate to the likely costs which it is practicable for Ofcom to estimate.

Statement of Principles: Retention of Amounts paid under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 (PDF, 587.4 KB)

Ofcom is committed to reducing regulation and minimising administrative burdens on its stakeholders. We have a bias against regulatory intervention and, where we do need to intervene, we seek to use the least intrusive mechanisms. We also recognise the importance of keeping under review, and minimising, the burdens imposed by existing regulation. A key part of this is ensuring that our operational processes are efficient and user friendly.

This Simplification Plan sets out what Ofcom has done to reduce regulation since publishing our last Simplification Plan in December 2006, and outlines the further initiatives we will be taking over the coming year. For the purpose of consistency, any reference to "simplification initiatives" includes initiatives that are aimed at reducing regulatory burdens on our stakeholders, including administrative burdens associated with regulatory compliance.

Simplification plan: 2007 (PDF, 195.5 KB)

If you work in a sector we regulate, you can report a concern to Ofcom as a whistleblower under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA).

Find out more about disclosing to us.

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