Do I hear the sound...
... of axe grinding...?
Is Ofcom boss Ed Richards' middle name "Lucky"? The UK watchdog's supremo could yet end up running the BBC without leaving his desk at Southwark Bridge. Last year, the former Labour policy wonk – who helped create Ofcom – applied to get the top job at the Beeb, only to lose out to George Entwistle. Now it's claimed the …
... of axe grinding...?
No, by this point there's merely a suspiciously large pile of hot metal filings on the workshop floor.
Note the loaded words: "poacher", "spectacular botch jobs", "old boys' network", "fat cat pay".
Don't make me laugh. The folks that defended the Mobile Operators grossly inflated Roaming charges.
Their track record is laughable. They don't even regulate and protect Spectrum properly and someone expects them to understand the very much complex BBC?
"Their track record is laughable. They don't even regulate and protect Spectrum properly and someone expects them to understand the very much complex BBC?"
The most horrifying thing is that Richards got the sinecure as head of OFCOM on account of being Ghastly Blair's mate. Having led the weakest and most ineffectual regulator, completely messed up national broadband roll out, done nothing to keep (for example) telcos from ramping "fixed" contract prices during the contract term, been useless in stopping unwanted commercial calls, failing to call a halt to the crappy DAB roll out (or plan for migration to DAB+), failed to properly control BT Openreach (and arguably similarly failed to open up VM's last mile network), failed to lead a debate and plan for a post-license fee world etc etc. Even on postal regulation, OFCOM have bent over backwards to allow the PO to shaft customers with pricing arrangements that would never survive if there were any competition.
So having achieved less than nothing, whilst pocketing over £350k a year, this berk's name is now being considered for the next head of the BBC, despite this poor track record, and the fact that his CV suggests he knows nothing about programme making, entertainment, journalism, or "content" in any form.
"Given that the BBC Trust has to represent both the poacher and the gamekeeper, it was in an impossible situation to begin with."
Hardly an impossible situation - dealing with conflicting interests must certainly be tricky but you can't say it can't be done. Fair enough the Trust have made an arse of it, but the solution is to come down on them like a ton of bricks and maybe punt some of them out, not junking the entire lot and overloading OfCom even further. Surely setting strategic direction for the beeb would be way out of their comfort zone.
I doubt his middle name's "lucky", but it may well rhyme with it.
You'd have to wonder what kind of safe pair of hands they're after, given Ed and Ofcom's lamentable track record on pretty much everything they've touched - at least from the perspective of the consumer, for whom Ofcom has most often looked the PR/apologist wing of the telecoms industry. It has dragged it heels on every consultation it has done, then discarded what it doesn't like the look of before cherry picking the bits to implement that most suit its own idea of 'right'. It let talktalk (among many others) get away with slamming for an eternity before issuing a minor admonishment that would have left their misdeeds still entirely profitable. The timescales for implementing changes to protect consumers are invariably so tortuous that users continue to be out of pocket long after issues should have been resolved.
On Phorm and their ilk, Ofcom decided that provided they told us they were screwing us first, the rest was fair game.
They fight Europe tooth and nail on every issue that makes the networks uncomfortable but offers a better deal for consumers. We were warned of substantial domestic price rises after the reductions in roaming costs; where are the rises??? My contract went up by 80p, but I now get more free minutes than there are waking hours.
And then there's BskyB, where Ofcom were saved from making a very, very embarrassing decision only because the wheels came off the NoTW in the nick of time. Another few weeks and the decision would have been out, no doubt approving the deal as Ofcom had repeatedly stated they were 'minded to' at every stage of the process. The 'fit and proper' evidence was hardly difficult to come by, but Ofcom studiously avoided it until they had no other choice. As with so much else, its hard to see any evidence of good judgement or a balanced view.
With such a questionable record in delivering value to the public, its hard to see how Ofcom would do any better with the BBC. Fat cat salaries? Hard to argue the toss on that from the moral high ground when your own chief exec is paid £381,000 (down from £425,000 a few years ago). IIRC at the time the ConDems came to power, Ofcom had something like 12 of the 20 highest salaries in government.
Governments of either colour would love nothing better that to wreck the BBC or have it come to heel, although obsessing about it is a particular favourite of the Tories, not least because their friends in business really don't like being beaten on quality and price. The only logic to giving Ofcom the keys would be that it looks like a particularly fine tool to have in the wreckers arsenal. If Ed has a real talent, it's for studiously watching which way the wind is blowing and going with it, whatever political direction its wafting on the day.