Sharon White is stepping down as the head of British media regulator Ofcom.
White joined the body, formally known as the Office of Communications, in 2015. She will vacate the post of chief executive around the end of the year.
During White’s tenure, Ofcom was tasked with investigating 21st Century Fox’s bid to take over Sky, and concluded that the then-Murdoch-owned company would be a “fit and proper” owner of the pay-TV giant. However, Sky was ultimately bought by Comcast for $39 billion in a high-stakes auction last year.
Ofcom is also believed to be scrutinizing the BBC and ITV’s plan to launch their joint streaming service, BritBox, in Britain (it currently operates in North America). More than a decade ago, the regulator had ruled that such a collective venture would be detrimental to competition, but with the arrival of Netflix and Amazon, it is likely to be more sympathetic to the idea.
White is leaving Ofcom to become the chairwoman of retail giant John Lewis Partnership. Ofcom’s board has begun the search for White’s replacement.
“Under Sharon’s leadership, Ofcom has helped to deliver ultra-fast broadband, widespread 4G mobile and now 5G, and became the first independent regulator of the BBC,” Terry Burns, Ofcom’s chairman, said in a statement. “She leaves Ofcom as a regulator with a relentless focus on the consumer interest, making sure people and businesses can get the best out of their communications services.”
White said that it had been “a huge privilege to lead Ofcom at a time when reliable, affordable communications have become essential. I will leave behind an organization that is dedicated in its mission to make communications work for everyone.”