How Ofcom approaches enforcement

Cyhoeddwyd: 22 Mai 2024

Ofcom has powers to set and/or enforce a wide range of rules in the sectors for which we are responsible. These include regulatory rules that are specific to the sectors we regulate as well as more general consumer and competition laws that apply to the sectors we regulate.

If there is evidence that operators are not following these rules, we may decide to take enforcement action.

We have several enforcement options available to us, depending on the type of rule we suspect may have been breached.

Regulatory, consumer and competition enforcement

Our job is to investigate potential breaches of regulatory, consumer and competition rules. We also resolve regulatory disputes between companies.

We publish details of the investigations we carry out, as well as the guidelines we follow.

Find out more about this work

Broadcasting content and standards enforcement

Under the Communications Act 2003, Ofcom has a duty to set standards for content broadcast on TV and radio. We also have a duty to ensure that on demand programme services (ODPS) meet certain standards requirements set out in the Act.

We reflect these requirements in our rules and codes, like the Broadcasting Code.

We also publish procedures for handling complaints, investigations and sanctions on TV, radio and video-on-demand services.

The Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin reports on the outcome of our investigations into alleged breaches of our codes and rules, as well as conditions with which broadcasters licensed by Ofcom are required to comply. More information about the Bulletin and our approach is available.

We also publish a bulletin for complaints about BBC online material. This reports on the outcome of Ofcom’s consideration on complaints received about the BBC’s online material. Where relevant, it provides Ofcom’s opinion on whether the BBC observed the relevant standards for its online material. 

Spectrum compliance and enforcement

Our job is to protect and manage use of the radio spectrum. We make sure that anyone who uses spectrum follows the rules relating to its use.

In many cases, we achieve compliance by engaging with stakeholders to make our expectations clear and promoting good standards of behaviour.

But in some cases, we may decide to investigate potential non-compliance – and possibly act to ensure the law is followed.

Find out more about this work

How to complain

As a consumer

If you want to complain about your phone, broadband or postal service, something you have seen or heard on a TV, radio or on-demand programme, interference to a wireless device, or something you have seen on an online service, website or app, you can make a complaint to us online.

Although we don’t investigate individual complaints, your complaints can lead to investigations and to us acting.

As a company or organisation

If you are a company or organisation and want to complain about another company in a sector we regulate, you should check the type of complaints we can investigate and how to make a complaint, on the relevant sector specific page above.

As a whistleblower

If you work in a sector we regulate, you can report a concern to Ofcom as a whistleblower. Find out more about how to make a protected disclosure to us.

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