The Operating Framework and related documents

29 March 2017

Effective from 3 April 2017, Ofcom becomes the BBC's first external regulator.

As required under the BBC’s Royal Charter, Ofcom has developed an 'Operating Framework' for the BBC, covering regulation of the BBC’s performance, compliance with content standards and impact on competition.

This page gathers together the different parts of the Operating Framework and other documents relevant to Ofcom’s regulation of the BBC, and will remain updated.

For copies of consultations, regulatory statements, news releases and other useful information relating to Ofcom and the BBC issued before 3 April 2017, see BBC regulation.

Introduction to Ofcom’s Operating Framework for the BBC PDF, 164.1 KB

Cyflwyniad i Fframwaith Gweithredu Ofcom ar gyfer y BBC PDF, 178.8 KB

The new Charter gives Ofcom responsibility for regulating the content standards of the BBC’s television, radio and on-demand programmes.

The Ofcom Broadcasting Code contains the rules which the BBC is required to follow so that BBC viewers and listeners are appropriately protected. The Code’s rules for due impartiality and due accuracy (Section 5), elections and referendums (Section 6), commercial references in television (Section 9) and commercial communications in radio (Section 10) apply to the BBC for the first time under the new Charter.

Rules for party political and referendum broadcasts. PDF, 138.3 KB This document sets out requirements on the BBC in relation to party political and referendum broadcasts.

Procedures for handling BBC content standards complaints, investigations and sanctions. This document sets out the procedures that Ofcom will normally follow when handling complaints about BBC television, radio and on-demand programmes, and how we will conduct investigations and sanctions.

Still to come...

Ofcom will also publish procedures detailing how we will handle complaints and provide our view on whether the BBC has observed relevant editorial guidelines for its online material.

The Charter and Agreement place duties on Ofcom to consider the impacts of the BBC’s activities on fair and effective competition.

As a large publicly-funded organisation, the BBC inevitably has an impact on competition in the wider media market. It may have a positive effect by increasing choice or encouraging sector wide innovation, for example. But in fulfilling its objectives, the BBC may also harm the ability of others to compete effectively.

Ofcom’s role is to assess the impact of the BBC’s activities on competition. We have developed rules relating to different areas of BBC activity that could lead to competition concerns and guidance to explain the tools we will use to protect fair and effective competition in the areas that the BBC operates.

Regulating the BBC’s impact on competition PDF, 92.5 KB

Rheoleiddio effaith y BBC ar gystadleuaeth PDF, 84.3 KB

This document provides a general overview to our approach to BBC competition regulation.

Assessing the impact of proposed changes to the BBC’s public service activities: Ofcom’s procedures and guidance PDF, 282.4 KB .This document explains how we will assess whether the public value of a change proposed by the BBC to its public service activities justifies any adverse impacts on fair and effective competition.

Assessing the impact of the BBC’s public service activities: Ofcom’s procedures and guidance PDF, 214.3 KB . This document explains how we will assess whether an existing BBC public service activity is having a significant adverse impact on fair and effective competition. This includes an assessment of whether the public value of the service justifies any adverse impacts on fair and effective competition.

The BBC’s commercial activities: Requirements and guidance. PDF, 259.6 KB This document explains how we will address competition concerns that could arise from the relationship between the BBC and its commercial subsidiaries, and how we will conduct assessments of BBC proposals for material changes to commercial activities.

Distribution of BBC public services: Ofcom’s requirements and guidance PDF, 159.7 KB . This document explains how we will consider specific competition concerns about the way the BBC distributes its public services, taking into account the need for the BBC to fulfil its Mission and Public Purposes.

The BBC’s trading activities: A consultation on Ofcom’s proposed requirements and guidance. We are currently consulting on requirements we intend to place on the BBC to ensure that its trading activities do not harm fair and effective competition. Start: 29 March 2017, End: 24 May 2017.

Still to come...

Procedures for enforcement of BBC competition requirements. We have consulted on the procedures we would expect to follow in our enforcement of these competition requirements, including how we would expect to handle complaints, carry out investigations and impose sanctions. We will publish our finalised procedures shortly.

Ofcom is tasked with holding the BBC to account in relation to its output and services, using the range of regulatory tools at our disposal. These tools include setting enforceable regulatory conditions on the BBC’s UK public services through the BBC’s operating licence; a new performance measurement framework to assess compliance with the regulatory conditions and examine the BBC’s wider performance; an annual report on these performance measures and the BBC’s compliance with the regulatory conditions; and at least two in-depth reviews of the BBC’s performance during the Charter period. We can also conduct ad hoc reviews, where we feel appropriate.

Activity so far...

Holding the BBC to account for the delivery of its mission and public purposes. In this consultation (Start: 29 March 2017, End: 17 July 2017):

  • we set out our proposed Operating Licence for the BBC’s UK public services. This includes the draft regulatory conditions that Ofcom considers appropriate for requiring the BBC: to fulfil its mission and promote the public purposes; secure the provision of distinctive output and services; and secure that audiences in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are well served; and
  • a draft set of performance measures, which will enable us to assess the BBC’s delivery of its mission and purposes.

The consultation also includes two draft procedural documents that will form part of the Operating Framework:

  • how Ofcom will set and administer the operating licence regime and the procedures to be followed, including the procedures for setting the regulatory conditions in an operating licence, and the considerations Ofcom will have regard to in setting regulatory conditions;
  • how Ofcom will set performance measures and the procedures to be followed.

Still to come...

We intend to set and publish the final operating licence by the end of September 2017. The exact timing will depend on the BBC’s interim annual plan, which will be an input to our consultation and on the consultation responses from other stakeholders.

We also plan to publish our final statement on performance measures and procedures by the end of September.

Under the Charter, Ofcom must enforce compliance by the BBC with specified requirements. These include competition requirements, content standards in BBC programmes and other requirements set out in the Agreement.

Ofcom may consider complaints in relation to the BBC’s compliance with these requirements, and carry out investigations if we consider it appropriate. We may also impose certain sanctions on the BBC if it does not comply with these requirements.

We are required under the Agreement to set procedures for the handling of complaints and investigations.

Procedures for handling BBC content standards complaints, investigations and sanctions This document sets out the procedures that Ofcom will normally follow when handling complaints about BBC television, radio and on-demand programmes, and how we will conduct investigations and sanctions.

Procedures for enforcement of requirements in the BBC Agreement and compliance with Ofcom enforcement action PDF, 150.4 KB This document explains our procedures for investigating (i) breaches by the BBC of a range of requirements specified in the BBC Agreement, and (ii) non-compliance by the BBC with enforcement action.

Still to come...

Procedures for enforcement of BBC competition requirements. We have consulted on the procedures we would expect to follow in our enforcement of these competition requirements, including how we would expect to handle complaints, carry out investigations and impose sanctions. We will publish our finalised procedures shortly.