1.1 This Draft Annual Plan presents Ofcom's strategic purposes, proposed priorities and work programme for the twelve months from 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014.
1.2 We encourage those with an interest in Ofcom's work to respond to this consultation by 22 February 2013. Your views will help us inform our Final Annual Plan statement for 2013/14 which will be published in time for the start of the next financial year in April 2013.
1.3 Ofcom's principal duties are to further the interests of citizens in relation to communications matters and to further the interests of consumers in relevant markets, where appropriate by promoting competition. In post, our primary duty is to secure the provision of a universal postal service. Where we are carrying out our functions in relation to postal services, we are required to give priority to this primary duty in post if it appears to us that it conflicts with our principal duties.
1.4 We have defined an overarching strategy setting out those elements we think are key to delivering consumer and citizen benefits in light of these duties:
We will work for consumers and citizens by promoting effective competition, informed choice and the opportunity to participate in a wide range of communications services, including post. We will secure the optimal use of spectrum, through market mechanisms where possible and regulatory action where necessary. We will provide proportionate protection for consumers and help maintain audiences' confidence in broadcast content. We will contribute to public policy defined by Parliament, including high quality public service broadcasting and plurality of media ownership.
To achieve these aims, we will be consultative, transparent and proportionate. We will be informed through high quality research and information, which we will share widely. We will be mindful of the diversity of the UK and its nations. We will aim to be innovative, responsive and effective in everything we do.
1.5 In addition to this strategy statement, Ofcom's regulatory principles continue to remain relevant, including:
1.6 This year, we have refined our strategic purposes, first established in 2011/12, to reflect our strategy and frame our programme of work over the coming years.
1.7 Ofcom also has a wider strategy in relation to citizens - supporting public policy is not the only way that we discharge our duties in this area. Specific actions and interventions in the citizen interest will continue to be spread across all of our strategic purposes rather than falling solely under our role of contributing to and implementing public policy defined by Parliament.
1.8 Ofcom's work programme for 2013/14 is underpinned by these strategic purposes and informed by:
1.9 There are a number of priorities which featured in the Annual Plan 2013/14 which we have already delivered or will have done by the end of the 2012/13 financial year. These include:
1.10 There are a number of items where we have made significant progress but which have carried over into the forthcoming financial year:
1.11 Communications are at the heart of all of our lives and they play an important economic and cultural role. The communications sector enables participation and social cohesion in UK society. Furthermore the sector makes a substantive direct contribution to the economy (in 2011 the UK communications industry revenue stood at 53.3bn ) and indirectly aids UK growth through increased business productivity, improved access to markets and enhanced speed and quality of information flows.
1.12 Consumer behaviour and new technologies are driving change in the market and Ofcom needs to ensure that its work reflects and responds to these developments, including:
1.13 The priority areas in Figure 1 will be our primary focus over the next financial year. Some of our priority areas in last year's work programme will continue into 2013/14, alongside a number of new areas of work.
1.14 We will assess the successful delivery of our proposed priorities for 2013/14 against the positive outcomes we are seeking to secure for citizens and consumers. To achieve this, we have identified interim and final outcomes for each of our priorities (see pages 41 and 42) and we will measure our progress towards delivering these in our Annual Report.
1.15 As well as these priorities, we will undertake a range of other work as part of our 2013/14 programme (discussed in Section 5), reflecting our statutory duties and responsibilities. We will also continue to deliver other services to stakeholders, such as licensing access to the radio spectrum (detailed in Section 6). We will deliver these services in the most efficient and effective way possible.
1.16 We will also continue to remain responsive to new issues, emerging concerns that affect consumers across the UK and new government requests, focusing on those areas where we can make the most difference.
1.17 In addition to responding to requests from the Government and to help it to implement its policies in respect of communications matters, we will also aid government in the UK nations to ensure that consumer and citizen benefits are available across and within all the nations of the UK.
1.18 For the first time this year we include a list of areas of potential future relevance to Ofcom. These areas comprise possible future priorities for the organisation and emerging issues on which Ofcom may be required to have a view in the future. Both are areas over which Ofcom will continue to have a watching brief, but where it is too early to undertake work within next years Annual Plan.
1.19 We are seeking views from all our stakeholders on our proposed priorities and work programme for 2013/14. In particular, it would be helpful if you could consider the following questions:
1.20 See Annex 1 for details of how to respond to this consultation.