Telecom writ gives Brits fit

House of Commons wants one media board

LONDON — A new House of Commons report has recommended the creation of a single regulatory org for broadcasting and telecommunications as well as the setting up of a separate government department for communications.

The report from a select committee of MPs, titled “The Multi-Media Revolution,” may influence government policy on a number of broadcasting issues. It quickly, however, encountered stiff resistance on combining the ITC, the commercial broadcasting regulator, the telco regulator Oftel, and the OFT, the competition watchdog, into a new entity.

The BBC said in a statement it “would reject any move to create a single regulator. There is little industry support for such a monolith with an unwelcome concentration of power.”

ITV Network chairman Leslie Hill said: “We do not want to see the abolition of the ITC — or to see it subsumed within the kind of macro-regulator advocated in the report. We believe this would be too much, too soon.”

For their part, the ITC, Oftel and the OFT issued a joint statement arguing for the status quo. “We will work closely to resolve the issues which cut across regulatory boundaries, and we will reinforce the official-level working groups that already exist,” they said.

The ITC maintained, however, that the joint press release was a statement of intent related to convergence issues, and that the timing of the release was entirely coincidental.