Dame Melanie Dawes has just completed a year as chief executive of U.K. media regulator Ofcom, the body which launched an investigation into Monday’s episode of “Good Morning Britain” after 41,000 complaints over former host Piers Morgan’s remarks on Meghan Markle.
Over the past year, under Dawes’ tenure, Ofcom has also investigated complaints stemming from a Black Lives Matter-inspired routine on “Britain’s Got Talent.”
Addressing the Deloitte and Enders Media and Telecoms conference on Wednesday, Dawes said, “Good regulation involves creating a level playing field with fair competition to drive a fair deal for the consumer where markets can find the solution. That’s what we will support. And we will always make our decisions independently without fear or favor and on the back of clear, transparent evidence and research.”
The executive wasn’t specifically referring to the “Good Morning Britain” investigation.
Ofcom is much more than just a complaints body. Along with the Competition and Markets Authority and the Information Commissioner’s Office, Ofcom is a part of the Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum, which on Tuesday outlined its priorities for the coming year.
As part of that, Dawes revealed three focus areas. In the telecom sector, Ofcom will encourage fair competition among mobile, broadband and fibre providers and encourage competition, so that customers get the best deal possible.
The second area of focus for Ofcom is to support the rapid shift to digital services in the U.K. creative sector. “Disruption to the industry for digital transformation, while offering amazing new choices to the viewer and listener, risks losing some things we really care about,” said Dawes. “For all that we appreciate the global players, such as Netflix and Disney, we love TV and radio that are rooted in our communities and reflect British life.
“Our research shows clearly that the public values trusted radio and TV news services more than ever before. In an era of polarization, cancel culture and multiple sources of news, some of them unreliable and and some coupled with deliberate disinformation, accurate, impartial and trusted news underpinned by regulation that prizes freedom of speech is more important than ever as a core pillar of U.K life.”
Ofcom’s final priority is to take on new responsibilities for online safety regulation, protecting consumers from online harm, while preserving freedom of expression.