Ofcom has today published its annual plan for 2019/20, which sets out our work for the new financial year.
Ofcom’s mission is to make communications work for everyone.
To help achieve this, our priorities for 2019/20 include:
We put together our annual plan after consulting with a range of organisations and the public, and we held events in all of the UK nations. The plan contains all our planned projects for the coming financial year.
Being connected wherever they are is increasingly important to people. Our priority is to help ensure that everyone, across all parts of the UK, can benefit from better mobile phone and broadband services.
We will help those who can’t get decent broadband, by choosing one or more companies to provide the Government’s planned universal broadband service. We will continue to support investment in fibre networks by opening up access to BT’s network of underground ducts and telegraph poles. This will make it cheaper, quicker and easier for other firms to build their own networks.
We want to see rural communities getting the kind of mobile coverage that people expect in towns and cities. To help achieve this, we will release more airwaves through an auction, which can be used to boost mobile reception in rural areas.
We will also continue to prepare for the launch of 5G, the next generation of mobile services.
We will follow our previous work to make sure broadband, phone and TV customers are treated fairly, by continuing to stand up for people who use those services. We will work to ensure fairer, clearer pricing, in particular for people who pay for their handsets bundled with airtime, or customers who pay more because of their contract status.
We will also finalise our plans for companies to tell customers about their best available broadband, landline, mobile or pay-TV deal when their contracts are coming to an end, and every year afterwards if they don’t change their deal.
And from April, we will increase the budget for the Communications Consumer Panel by 50%. The panel acts as a voice for customers in the telecoms sector, and the increase will help it to carry out more work on behalf of these people.
We want UK broadcasters to continue to thrive and deliver high-quality programmes.
Our work in this area will include a review of public service broadcasting over the past five years. Looking ahead, we will think about how future work could be influenced by changes in technology, competition and audience behaviour. This will include making sure public-service channels remain easy for people to find.
We will publish our decision on strengthening our rules for regional TV productions, and will publish our review of the BBC’s news and current affairs programming. We will also look at any changes to the BBC’s public service and commercial activities.
Our job is to keep audiences safe and protected, regardless how they access content. We have duties to promote media literacy, which includes helping to improve people’s understanding of the online world, and we will do more work in this area as part of our Making Sense of Media programme.
This will include new research into specific harms, to raise awareness of them and inform discussions about how to deal with them. We will also work closely with other regulators, in the UK and abroad, to share expertise and best practice.
Other important priorities
We will continue to support people and industry through the Brexit process and ensure we are prepared for a range of potential outcomes.
We will continue to work closely with the UK Government and the National Cyber Security Centre, to ensure communications networks are resilient. This will include threat-testing and working with industry to deliver improvements where weaknesses are spotted.
We have set stretching targets for diversity and inclusion among our workforce, and we will continue to report on our progress in this area. We will also continue to report annually on the diversity of people working in the television and radio industries, and to challenge broadcasters to continue to tackle under-representation of people from minority groups.