This morning the UK government published the Postal Services Bill, which details how the regulatory authority for the postal sector has been transferred to Ofcom. The joint statement from the two agencies blandly notes that the two regulators are working together to ensure continuity in their regulatory activities.
But how, exactly? As governments around the world have noticed by separating postes and telecoms (although some anachronisms remain) communications systems have not been similar to postal systems for over a century (let’s say, since the telegraph). Converged media in the Internet age is no Royal Mail.
Given that the government MUST know this, I can only conclude that saddling Ofcom with an unrelated set of regulatory duties is a preliminary action in advance of winding down the entire regulator. And then what? The government may want perfect deregulation, but radio spectrum allocation, network neutrality and citizen’s rights to communicate (not to mention broadcast content !) will not manage themselves.
UPDATE! It appears that one of the functions that will be changed is the review by Ofcom of Channel 3 TV licenses – so effectively removing the public service broadcast requirement and allowing the Minister of Culture much more direct control over new TV licenses. Though I’m no broadcast TV expert, this deregulation agenda seems quite similar to that of the USA in the 1990s . . . which led to more media consolidation, rather than a diversity of voices.