Hey, Dave ...
Obscenely rich people who do a fraction of the work of their workforce and take home most of the money ... can they be top of your hit list?
Ofcom would be scrapped and regulators stripped of policy-making responsibilities by a Tory government, David Cameron said today. Singled out for criticism in a speech proposing cutbacks to the myriad quangos administering various policy areas, the communications regulator's successor should only have technical …
Here we go again! Those who can remember Thatcher being elected the first time will remember that she was elected on a platform of...legalising CB radio and "abolishing quangos". Keen observers will realise that CB radios are legal but so what? and that all the quangos Thatch abolished were soon replaced by just as many Tory quangos. Oh, and she did destroy about a third of manufacturing industry within a year and put nearly four million out of work. Not bad for two years work. Then she went on to do the *really* bad stuff...
Ignore history at your peril, youngsters.
I could have sworn that the culture of creating Quangos and handing out their running as perks to your political friends, allies and donors was something that really came to the fore during the Thatcher/Major years.
I'm sure by the end of the next Conservative government there will be just as many Quangos, they will just be run by Cameron's cronies...
I heard the speech and the Tories sounded like they stumbled on Ofcom without really understanding the reason why Ofcom MUST be broken up.
The reason is that Ofcom has a third role, besides policy advice and regulation, and that third role is to foster investment by telcos in the kind of services the government wants to see - a kind of executive role to add to the other 2 roles.
I recently asked Ed Richards directly if he considered Ofcom to be a "light touch" regulator and whether he saw any problems with that. His answer was similar to that published on a BBC Q&A session:
"Ed Richards: I don't like the expression "light touch" regulator. We try to be as unintrusive as we can be, not to intervene unless we have to, but if we have to and there's a public interest in intervening, we are willing to do so swiftly and effectively."
What struck me from my conversation with him is that he doesn't see any problem with a REGULATOR being "unintrusive" (his word, not mine).
The failures I see of Ofcom are too numerous to mention in full; unfathomable pricing plans for voice and data leading to a breakdown in competition in the market being just one example.
But how is a regulator supposed to look after the consumer when that same regulator is also tasked with getting the telcos to invest in areas the government wants AND formulating policy?
Ofcom MUST be broken up ASAP and three separate bodies must:
1.) Serve as a regulator to champion the consumer and enforce the law
2.) Formulate communications policy
3.) Foster innovation and investment
... putting something in its place that has teeth and knows how to bite. All the cosy little arrangements still out there, e.g. that ISP's can dictate which company's phone lines are used to connect to them, must be ruled out of order. All proposed price rise packages for phone, internet, cable TV, etc. must be required to be sent to the new body for approval before they can be applied, with the possibility of being rejected instead. And so on and so on.
How about we just get rid of OFCOM and then don't replace them. Let channels choose what they broadcast, and guess what ... if people dont like it, they wont watch it.
Sensorship is needless anyway, unless of course you count inequiped parents leaving their kids infront of the telly as a genuine cause.
Ye there'd be more porn, and more violence; all that would mean is that TV as a medium will have caught up with Film, the Internet and Game.
The only thing we'd need to worry about is advertising; however channels would eventually become more picky about what ads they choose to show based on their target audience; as CBBC wouldn want Tampax ads; like it doesn't now.
If somebody wants to produce a piece of media and broadcast it, I welcome them; to me thats just part of free speech.
And on the subject of what Thatcher did ... get over it; it's history; if all your political oppinions are based on something that happened 20 years ago with a completely different set of MPs then you shouldn't be allowed to vote ... or at least morally you should choose not to (as I do beleive in a democracy).
On the subject of what Thatcher did or didn't do, remember what the last Labour Government did. They bankrupted the country and had to go cap in hand to the IMF. Rather like what Gordon and Tony have managed to do. Thatcher got the reins of a country that was already bankrupt. She took the tough decisions that allowed the Conservatives to hand over a highly successful economy to Labour which they have then run into the ground.
If you are going to pull lessons from history, make sure you look for the right lessons.
Promoting telco interests
Effectively setting policy by ignoring the law
Just what are we paying those people for?
I don't know what the replacement will be like, but Ofcom is pretty thoroughly discredited. Do the Conservatives know why?
If the don't, we're in trouble whoever wins the next General Election.
They're a whole bunch of these quangos used to move regulation out of government and parliament and into private companies..... all stuffed with NuLabour apparatchiks. Media types and turfers.
Ofcom is just a larger £136 million a year parasite that will fight tooth and nail to keep feeding on its host.
Firstly. OMG, a whole year of election campaigning is on it's way!
But to get to the point, when the EU took the government to task over Phorm it was because the New Labour government wasn't doing a proper job of applying the EU regulations regarding our on-line rights. Rather than being redundant, the problem is that OfCom is too weak and doesn't do it's job properly because it can't stand up to government pressure (just like with the FSA).
If we did get rid of OfCom, a Conservative government would be legally obliged to pass the job of policing our ISPs onto another body. Who would that be? The Police? A new mega-regulator? Most probably, it would be a government Ministry. The Tories have talked lots recently about decentralising power, but I fail to see how replacing (potentially) independent non-governmental bodies with new London-based, government-run Whitehall regulators achieves this broader aim.
New Tories. New Labour. Same old same old.
Only one small hitch - Cameron has to win the election first. Despite the incompetence and ineptence of the encumbents thats not a dead cert. Not mention the dyed in the wool labour supporters (who just couldn't bring themselves to sack Hazel Blears) and the half million pen pushers ^h^h^h public servants (sic) Labour has taken off the dole queue.
Whilst this is (fully justified) popularism, it will be interesting to see what the replacement looks like. And even more interesting to see whether he gives the information commisioner real teeth to take data protection seriously. Or not.
To be honest, I don't see the point of 99% of what OFCOM does. About the only role of theirs that actually needs perpetuating is that of radio-spectrum management/allocation.
My business is prepared to undertake this task on behalf of Her Majesty's Government. For free!
We would partner (on a commission-sharing basis) with one of the larger Internet auction-operators* and run five-yearly auctions of the entire RF spectrum in convenient slices. No bogus 'quality thresholds' or silly 'public-service-broadcasting commitments' - what we would look for is good old-fashioned cash. In advance.
You want bandwidth? You've got the money? Come on down!
Megabucks mean MegaHertz!
* Probably the one which takes payments via PayPal.
is that they appear to have forgotten that their main responsibility is to the public.
They seem to spend most of their time wondering how to maximise government revenue from the EM spectrum instead, e.g. their insistence on changing the HD broadcast standard to render everybody's HD built-in tuners obsolete. It opens up some bandwidth for sale, but screws the public for another tuner/digibox.
As for "Thatcher" (AC 19:30), I couldn't give a fuck what the government before her did, but I do give a fuck that she described having 4 million people on the dole as "a price worth paying for economic prosperity". As one of those four million, I certainly didn't see any economic prosperity. I'll never forgive the Tory party for that and for that reason they will never get my vote.
Still, if you want to go back to previous administrations, perhaps you should mention the power blackouts under Ted Heath's incompetence, or Anthony Eden's Suez fiasco, or perhaps the setting up of the Welfare State under Clement Attlee?
See, we can all use selective cases to score cheap political points...
I detest OFCOM, it's a waste of space that's achieved nothing positive and dodges the difficult issues that it exists to deal with (i.e. Phorm).
But Cameron's Tory government is too pro-creative industry and the fact he suggests telecomms will be handed over to the department of sport and culture only further cements this.
It was only a few months back Cameron suggested he'd put someone from the creative industries in charge of the UK's telecomms future too and a year before that a speech to the BPI about how he'd clamp down on piracy for them using technical measures (of which none exist that don't cause severe detriment to internet access for everyone).
So here's my concern, Cameron is showing more and more he wishes to mix telecomms and content and if we've learnt anything from the BPI/IFPI/RIAA/MPAA who influence or control these groups it's that these are groups that would put a failing business model over everything from human rights through to a countries technological health on the world stage.
If Cameron follows through with his hands and gives big media control of the UK's internet and technology policies as he's so far suggested he will by way of all his comments then the UK will officially be part of the technological 3rd world, and without a good technology base the rest of the UK will spiral downhill too.
I'm pretty pro-Thatcher, I think doing away with subsidised industry (i.e. mining) was great for the economy and the right thing to do and something the French would do well to learn regarding their subsidised farming industry holding their country right back. I'm not convinced Cameron is even in the same league though, he does not seem to have any grasp of how to make the UK a world technology leader and everything he's said so far will leave us in the metaphorical technical dark ages with more power for big industry to infringe on human rights than ever before.
i guess I'll be voting Lib Dem next election as I would never vote Labour and Cameron seems to be a horifically bad leader when it comes to policy even if he's a good leader when it comes to charisma. Charisma can't run a country though. If the recent expenses scandal taught us anything too it's that there are also still too many bad apples in the Tories, the idiots that ousted Thatcher in the first place. I would gladly vote for a new Thatcher government tommorrow if it was possible however, hers was the only government that has been technologically and economically forward thinking in decades.
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