Stephen Carter Leaving Ofcom?

In an update to this story, Ofcom confirm Carter to leave

Stephen Carter Leaving Ofcom?A reasonably insightful interview with Ofcom’s Stephen Carter by Maggie Brown in Monday’s Guardian. There is a suggestion that Carter is looking to move on – which would mean that the implementation of many of the key recommendations/agreements from the various strategic reviews he has overseen will fall to someone else (most likely – Ofcom’s COO – Ed Richards).

Brown suggests that Carter will be judged by the decisions he has taken in regard to ITV – particularly the decision to scale back ITV regional programming obligations. In reality I think the industry – both media and telecoms – are likely to judge Carter by the regulatory settlement he got out of BT.

Stephen Carter Leaving Ofcom?However, interesting to note the use of what Carter refers to as the “‘soft power’ of influence” in regard to decisions taken on ITV. Apparently others – including the ‘independent’ Content Board’ – favoured a different approach on scale backing PSB obligations but didn’t get their way.

Other interesting points from the article –

  • 1. Production Supply Market Review – which is published tomorrow. Carter says Ofcom has not tried to rewrite the ITC’s ‘terms of trade’ agreement made in 2003. He states,
    “We will make it clear that we are not intending to redraw the terms of trade on a short-term basis or whim, given that they have had a relatively short period of time to bite. The 2003 agreement will stand.” Asked for his views about the seven-day window agreed between the BBC and Pact, the independent producers’ body, he says: “It is too electric a subject to speculate on.”

  • 2. BBC – Carter stands by Ofcom’s position that the licence fee money should be ‘contestable’. This reiterates the advice of the independent Burns’ Panel who looked at the BBC structure and funding. However, the government didn’t go with it in the Green Paper on the BBC’s future, and it is unlikely to be in the White Paper. In my opinion this is also the right thing to do- although there will be plenty of people who disagree.

It will be interesting to see where Carter moves – if he does – my money would be on BSkyB (or News Corporation). Of course there will always be a role for him at Ofcomwatch – if he fancied a hands on role in new media.

Luke Gibbs is a co-founder of OfcomWatch
Ofcom