Policies and guidelines

A list of Ofcom's policies and guidelines.

The decisions which Ofcom makes can impose significant costs on our stakeholders and it is important for us to think very carefully before adding to the burden of regulation. One of our key regulatory principles is that we have a bias against intervention. This means that a high hurdle must be overcome before we regulate. If intervention is justified, we aim to choose the least intrusive means of achieving our objectives, recognising the potential for regulation to reduce competition. These guidelines explain how Impact Assessments will be used to help us apply these principles in a transparent and justifiable way.

"The option of not intervening...should always be seriously considered. Sometimes the fact that a market is working imperfectly is used to justify taking action. But no market ever works perfectly, while the effects of...regulation and its unintended consequences, may be worse then the effects of the imperfect market" - Better Regulation Task Force (September 2003)

Better Policy Making - Ofcom's approach to Impact Assessment PDF, 79.2 KB

Ofcom carried out an initial carbon audit in 2007 and subsequently committed to a challenging 25% reduction in carbon emissions by 2013. Over the past few years, Ofcom has undertaken a number of initiatives to reduce emissions as part of its Footprint and Sustainability project.

Ofcom has conducted a number of subsequent audits to assess progress against this overall reduction target. An audit in 2009 confirmed a total footprint of 4,716 tonnes compared to a 5,525 tonne baseline, equating to a 15% reduction in emissions. A further audit in 2011 confirmed a total footprint of 4,367 tonnes, bringing the overall reduction to 21%.

Ofcom's latest audit in 2013 confirmed a total footprint of 3,878 tonnes. This represents a 1,647 tonne reduction compared to the baseline, equating to an overall reduction of 30% and exceeding our original reduction target. The full carbon audit can be found below. We will continue to monitor our internal KPIs in order to reduce our emissions further in subsequent years.

Note that the original carbon audit showed a baseline footprint of 6,402 tonnes, however this was retrospectively updated by the carbon auditors in 2009 to account for revised carbon methodology, changes in conversion factors to align with Defra updates and minor changes to base-year input data.

OFCOM Final report Carbon Audit 2013 PDF, 1.4 MB

Corporate Responsibility (CR) is the action we take to ensure we are not only a responsible employer towards our colleagues, but that we also recognise and manage our impact on the wider environment and community.

Our CR programme brings together three key areas of activity that are embedded throughout the organisation:

  • Diversity and equality - treat all colleagues with dignity and respect in an inclusive and fair working environment. Promote equality of opportunity for all, not only within Ofcom but also the sectors we regulate.
  • Footprint and sustainability - reduce our carbon footprint, provide value for money and ensure Ofcom’s practices are environmentally sustainable.
  • Volunteering and community - engage, inspire and develop colleagues whilst proactively seeking to support our local community.

Find out more about corporate responsibility at Ofcom.

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 ('PIDA'/'Act') came into effect on 1 January 1999. The Act gives legal protection to employees against being dismissed or penalised by their employers as a result of disclosing information which is considered to be in the public interest. The principle of the Act is that where an individual discovers information which he or she believes to show malpractice or wrongdoing within their organisation that this information should be disclosed without fear of reprisal. This should be facilitated by a process which ensures that the person making the disclosure is afforded proper protection and that the information is acted upon quickly. The Act offers a right to redress in the event of victimisation if individuals raise concerns in the ways specified by the legislation.

Ofcom has a policy in place for its own employees and is obliged (it is a 'prescribed person') under the Act to put in place a procedure under which individuals working outside Ofcom but in the communications sector may contact Ofcom if they have concerns about possible wrongdoing at their own organisation and where they have been unable to raise or resolve those concerns internally. Ofcom is a Prescribed Person under the Act to which external disclosures can be made on matters relating to:

"(a) the provision of electronic communications networks and services and the use of the electro-magnetic spectrum; (b) broadcasting and the provision of television and radio services; (c) media ownership and control; and (d) competition in communications markets."

Procedure for making a disclosure to Ofcom under the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA).

The penalty guidelines published 3 December 2015 replace the penalty guidelines published 13 June 2011.

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.

Penalty guidelines 2015 - Section 392 of the Communications Act 2003 PDF, 61.0 KB

Revising the penalty guidelines - Consultation published 30|07|2015 - Statement published 03|12|15

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.

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

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.

Ofcom’s final compliance notice from the Welsh Language Commission carries Ofcom’s full authority, support and approval.

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

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 2017/18 Ofcom Administrative Charges PDF, 194.3 KB

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

In order to respect your privacy, we process your personal data in accordance with the data protection principles, namely:,

  1. Personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully.
  2. Personal data shall be obtained only for one or more specified and lawful purposes, and shall not be further processed in any manner incompatible with that purpose or those purposes.
  3. Personal data shall be adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purpose or purposes for which they are processed.
  4. Personal data shall be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date.
  5. Personal data processed for any purpose or purposes shall not be kept for longer than is necessary for that purpose or those purposes.
  6. Personal data shall be processed in accordance with the rights of data subjects under this Act.
  7. Appropriate technical and organisational measures shall be taken against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss or destruction of, or damage to, personal data.
  8. Personal data shall not be transferred to a country or territory outside the European Economic Area unless that country or territory ensures an adequate level of protection for the rights and freedoms of data subjects in relation to the processing of personal data.

Published by the Information Commissioner's Office May 2006

Treat all colleagues with dignity and respect in an inclusive and fair working environment. Promote equality of opportunity for all, not only within Ofcom but also the sectors we regulate.

At Ofcom we are determined to do all we can to promote Diversity and Equality inside our organisation and in the wider sectors we regulate.

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.