House of Lords portcullis
House of Lords
Session 2002 - 03
Internet Publications
Other Bills before Parliament

Communications Bill


Communications Bill
Part 1 — Functions of OFCOM

    8

 

           (a)           whether those procedures are administered by a person who is

sufficiently independent of the persons who may be subjected to the

procedures; and

           (b)           whether adequate arrangements are in force for funding the activities

of that person in relation to those procedures.

5

     (4)    OFCOM must, from time to time, publish a statement setting out how they

propose, during the period for which the statement is made, to secure that

regulation by OFCOM does not involve the imposition or maintenance of

unnecessary burdens.

     (5)    The first statement to be published under this section—

10

           (a)           must be published as soon as practicable after the commencement of

this section; and

           (b)           shall be a statement for the period of twelve months beginning with the

day of its publication.

     (6)    A subsequent statement—

15

           (a)           must be published during the period to which the previous statement

related; and

           (b)           must be a statement for the period of twelve months beginning with the

end of the previous period.

     (7)    It shall be the duty of OFCOM, in carrying out their functions at times during

20

a period for which a statement is in force under this section, to have regard to

that statement.

     (8)    OFCOM may, if they think fit, revise a statement under this section at any time

before or during the period for which it is made.

     (9)    Where OFCOM revise a statement, they must publish the revision as soon as

25

practicable.

     (10)   The publication under this section of a statement, or of a revision of a

statement, must be in such manner as OFCOM consider appropriate for

bringing it to the attention of the persons who, in their opinion, are likely to be

affected by the matters to which it relates.

30

 7     Duty to carry out impact assessments

     (1)    This section applies where—

           (a)           OFCOM are proposing to do anything for the purposes of, or in

connection with, the carrying out of their functions; and

           (b)           it appears to them that the proposal is important;

35

            but this section does not apply if it appears to OFCOM that the urgency of the

matter makes it impracticable or inappropriate for them to comply with the

requirements of this section.

     (2)    A proposal is important for the purposes of this section only if its

implementation would be likely to do one or more of the following—

40

           (a)           to involve a major change in the activities carried on by OFCOM;

           (b)           to have a significant impact on persons carrying on businesses in the

markets for any of the services, facilities, apparatus or directories in

relation to which OFCOM have functions; or

           (c)           to have a significant impact on the general public in the United

45

Kingdom or in a part of the United Kingdom.

 

 

Communications Bill
Part 1 — Functions of OFCOM

    9

 

     (3)    Before implementing their proposal, OFCOM must either—

           (a)           carry out and publish an assessment of the likely impact of

implementing the proposal; or

           (b)           publish a statement setting out their reasons for thinking that it is

unnecessary for them to carry out an assessment.

5

     (4)    An assessment under subsection (3)(a) must set out how, in OFCOM’s opinion,

the performance of their general duties (within the meaning of section 3) is

secured or furthered by or in relation to what they propose.

     (5)    An assessment carried out under this section—

           (a)           may take such form, and

10

           (b)           must relate to such matters,

            as OFCOM consider appropriate.

     (6)    In determining the matters to which an assessment under this section should

relate, OFCOM must have regard to such general guidance relating to the

carrying out of impact assessments as they consider appropriate.

15

     (7)    Where OFCOM publish an assessment under this section—

           (a)           they must provide an opportunity of making representations to them

about their proposal to members of the public and other persons who,

in OFCOM’s opinion, are likely to be affected to a significant extent by

its implementation;

20

           (b)           the published assessment must be accompanied by a statement setting

out how representations may be made; and

           (c)           OFCOM are not to implement their proposal unless the period for

making representations about it has expired and they have considered

all the representations that were made in that period.

25

     (8)    Where OFCOM are required (apart from this section)—

           (a)           to consult about a proposal to which this section applies, or

           (b)           to give a person an opportunity of making representations about it,

            the requirements of this section are in addition to, but may be performed

contemporaneously with, the other requirements.

30

     (9)    Every report under paragraph 12 of the Schedule to the Office of

Communications Act 2002 (c. 11) (OFCOM’s annual report) must set out—

           (a)           a list of the assessments under this section carried out during the

financial year to which the report relates; and

           (b)           a summary of the decisions taken during that year in relation to

35

proposals to which assessments carried out in that year or previous

financial years relate.

     (10)   The publication of anything under this section must be in such manner as

OFCOM consider appropriate for bringing it to the attention of the persons

who, in OFCOM’s opinion, are likely to be affected if their proposal is

40

implemented.

 8     Duty to publish and meet promptness standards

     (1)    It shall be the duty of OFCOM to publish a statement setting out the standards

they are proposing to meet with respect to promptness in—

           (a)           the carrying out of their different functions; and

45

 

 

Communications Bill
Part 1 — Functions of OFCOM

    10

 

           (b)           the transaction of business for purposes connected with the carrying

out of those functions.

     (2)    This section does not require standards to be set out with respect to anything

which (apart from this section) is required to be done by a time, or within a

period, provided for by or under an enactment.

5

     (3)    OFCOM may, if they think fit, at any time revise the statement for the time

being in force under this section.

     (4)    It shall be the duty of OFCOM—

           (a)           in carrying out their functions, and

           (b)           in transacting business for purposes connected with the carrying out of

10

their functions,

            to have regard to the statement for the time being in force under this section.

     (5)    Where OFCOM revise a statement under this section, they must publish the

revision as soon as practicable.

     (6)    The publication under this section of a statement, or of a revision of a

15

statement, must be in such manner as OFCOM consider appropriate for

bringing it to the attention of the persons who, in their opinion, are likely to be

affected by the matters to which it relates.

     (7)    OFCOM’s report under paragraph 12 of the Schedule to the Office of

Communications Act 2002 (c. 11) (annual report) for each financial year must

20

contain a statement by OFCOM summarising the extent to which they have

complied during that year with the standards set out under this section.

 9     Secretary of State’s powers in relation to promptness standards

     (1)    Where the Secretary of State considers that the statement published by

OFCOM under section 8 is not adequate for securing that they meet

25

satisfactory promptness standards, he may give them a notification to that

effect.

     (2)    If the period of three months after the date of the giving of a notification under

subsection (1) expires without OFCOM taking steps which the Secretary of

State is satisfied remedy the situation, he may give them a direction under this

30

section.

     (3)    A direction under this section is one requiring OFCOM to issue a new or

revised statement under section 8 in accordance with the direction.

     (4)    Before giving a direction under this section, the Secretary of State must—

           (a)           give OFCOM an opportunity of making representations to him about

35

his proposed direction; and

           (b)           have regard to any representations made to him by them.

     (5)    Where the Secretary of State gives a direction to OFCOM under this section, he

must publish a copy of it in such manner as he considers appropriate for

bringing it to the attention of persons who, in his opinion, are likely to be

40

affected by OFCOM’s promptness standards.

     (6)    It shall be the duty of OFCOM to revise their statement under section 8 in

accordance with any direction of the Secretary of State under this section.

     (7)    In this section “promptness standards” means standards of promptness in—

 

 

Communications Bill
Part 1 — Functions of OFCOM

    11

 

           (a)           the carrying out by OFCOM of their different functions; and

           (b)           the transaction by them of business for purposes connected with the

carrying out of those functions.

     (8)    No notification is to be given under subsection (1) at any time in the period of

twelve months beginning with the commencement of section 8.

5

Accessible domestic communications apparatus

 10    Duty to encourage availability of easily usable apparatus

     (1)    It shall be the duty of OFCOM to take such steps, and to enter into such

arrangements, as appear to them calculated to encourage others to secure—

           (a)           that domestic electronic communications apparatus is developed

10

which is capable of being used with ease, and without modification, by

the widest possible range of individuals (including those with

disabilities); and

           (b)           that domestic electronic communications apparatus which is capable of

being so used is as widely available as possible for acquisition by those

15

wishing to use it.

     (2)    It shall be the duty of OFCOM from time to time to review whether they need

to take further steps, or to enter into further arrangements, for the purpose of

performing their duty under this section.

     (3)    OFCOM must not do anything under this section that would be inconsistent

20

with the Community requirements set out in section 4.

     (4)    In this section “electronic communications apparatus” means apparatus that is

designed or adapted for a use which consists of or includes the sending or

receiving of communications or other signals that are transmitted by means of

an electronic communications network.

25

     (5)    For the purposes of this section electronic communications apparatus is

domestic electronic communications apparatus except to the extent that it is

designed or adapted for use solely for the purposes of, or in connection with, a

business.

     (6)    In this section “signal” includes—

30

           (a)           anything comprising speech, music, sounds, visual images or

communications or data of any description; and

           (b)           signals serving for the impartation of anything between persons,

between a person and a thing or between things, or for the actuation or

control of apparatus.

35

Media literacy

 11    Duty to promote media literacy

     (1)    It shall be the duty of OFCOM to take such steps, and to enter into such

arrangements, as appear to them calculated—

           (a)           to bring about, or to encourage others to bring about, a better public

40

understanding of the nature and characteristics of material published

by means of the electronic media;

 

 

Communications Bill
Part 1 — Functions of OFCOM

    12

 

           (b)           to bring about, or to encourage others to bring about, a better public

awareness and understanding of the processes by which such material

is selected, or made available, for publication by such means;

           (c)           to bring about, or to encourage others to bring about, the development

of a better public awareness of the available systems by which access to

5

material published by means of the electronic media is or can be

regulated;

           (d)           to bring about, or to encourage others to bring about, the development

of a better public awareness of the available systems by which persons

to whom such material is made available may control what is received

10

and of the uses to which such systems may be put; and

           (e)           to encourage the development and use of technologies and systems for

regulating access to such material, and for facilitating control over what

material is received, that are both effective and easy to use.

     (2)    In this section, references to the publication of anything by means of the

15

electronic media are references to its being—

           (a)           broadcast so as to be available for reception by members of the public

or of a section of the public; or

           (b)           distributed by means of an electronic communications network to

members of the public or of a section of the public.

20

OFCOM’s Content Board

 12    Duty to establish and maintain Content Board

     (1)    It shall be the duty of OFCOM, in accordance with the following provisions of

this section, to exercise their powers under paragraph 14 of the Schedule to the

Office of Communications Act 2002 (c. 11) (committees of OFCOM) to establish

25

and maintain a committee to be known as “the Content Board”.

     (2)    The Content Board shall consist of—

           (a)           a chairman appointed by OFCOM; and

           (b)           such number of other members appointed by OFCOM as OFCOM

think fit.

30

     (3)    The chairman of the Content Board must be a non-executive member of

OFCOM but is not to be the chairman of OFCOM.

     (4)    At least one of the other members of the Content Board must also be a non-

executive member of OFCOM other than the chairman of OFCOM.

     (5)    In appointing persons to be members of the Content Board, OFCOM must

35

secure that, for each of the following parts of the United Kingdom—

           (a)           England,

           (b)           Scotland,

           (c)           Wales, and

           (d)           Northern Ireland,

40

            there is a different member of the Board capable of representing the interests

and opinions of persons living in that part of the United Kingdom.

     (6)    In appointing a person for the purposes of subsection (5)(a), OFCOM must

have regard to the desirability of ensuring that the person appointed is able to

 

 

Communications Bill
Part 1 — Functions of OFCOM

    13

 

represent the interests and opinions of persons living in all the different

regions of England.

     (7)    The validity of any proceedings of the Content Board shall not be affected by

any failure by OFCOM to comply with subsection (5) or (6).

     (8)    It shall be the duty of OFCOM when appointing members of the Content Board

5

to secure, so far as practicable, that a majority of the members of the Board

(counting the chairman) consists of persons who are neither members nor

employees of OFCOM.

     (9)    The following shall be disqualified from being the chairman or another

member of the Content Board—

10

           (a)           governors and employees of the BBC;

           (b)           members and employees of the Welsh Authority; and

           (c)           members and employees of C4C.

     (10)   Before appointing a person to be the chairman or another member of the

Content Board, OFCOM must satisfy themselves that he will not have any

15

financial or other interest which would be likely prejudicially to affect the

carrying out by him of any of his functions as chairman or member of the

Content Board.

     (11)   A person is not to be taken to have such an interest by reason only that he is or

will be a member or employee of OFCOM.

20

     (12)   Every person whom OFCOM propose to appoint to be the chairman or another

member of the Content Board, shall, whenever requested to do so by OFCOM,

furnish OFCOM with any information they consider necessary for the

performance of their duty under subsection (10).

     (13)   In addition to paying remuneration and expenses under paragraph 14(4) of the

25

Schedule to the Office of Communications Act 2002 (c. 11), OFCOM may—

           (a)           pay to, or in respect of, any member of the Content Board who is not a

member or employee of OFCOM, such sums by way of pensions,

allowances or gratuities as OFCOM may determine; and

           (b)           provide for the making of such payments to or in respect of any such

30

member of the Content Board.

     (14)   In subsection (13)—

           (a)           the reference to pensions, allowances and gratuities includes a

reference to similar benefits payable on death or retirement; and

           (b)           the reference to providing for the payment of a pension, allowance or

35

gratuity to, or in respect of, a person includes a reference to the making

of payments towards the provision or payment of a pension, allowance

or gratuity, or of any such similar benefits, to or in respect of that

person.

 13    Functions of the Content Board

40

     (1)    The Content Board shall have such functions as OFCOM, in exercise of their

powers under the Schedule to the Office of Communications Act 2002, may

confer on the Board.

     (2)    The functions conferred on the Board must include, to such extent and subject

to such restrictions and approvals as OFCOM may determine, the carrying out

45

on OFCOM’s behalf of—

 

 

Communications Bill
Part 1 — Functions of OFCOM

    14

 

           (a)           functions in relation to matters that concern the contents of anything

which is or may be broadcast or otherwise transmitted by means of

electronic communications networks; and

           (b)           functions in relation to the promotion of public understanding or

awareness of matters relating to the publication of matter by means of

5

the electronic media.

     (3)    In determining what functions to confer on the Content Board, OFCOM must

have particular regard to the desirability of securing that the Board have at

least a significant influence on decisions which—

           (a)           relate to the matters mentioned in subsection (2); and

10

           (b)           involve the consideration of different interests and other factors as

respects different parts of the United Kingdom.

     (4)    It shall be the duty of the Content Board to ensure, in relation to—

           (a)           the carrying out of OFCOM’s functions under Part 3 of this Act, Parts 1

and 3 of the 1990 Act and Parts 1 and 2 of the 1996 Act,

15

           (b)           the matters with respect to which functions are conferred on the Board,

and

           (c)           such other matters mentioned in subsection (2) as OFCOM may

determine,

            that OFCOM are aware of the different interests and other factors which, in the

20

Board’s opinion, need to be taken into account as respects the different parts of

the United Kingdom in relation to the carrying out of OFCOM’s functions.

     (5)    The power of OFCOM to determine the Content Board’s functions includes

power to authorise the Board to establish committees and panels to advise the

Board on the carrying out of some or all of the Board’s functions.

25

     (6)    The power of OFCOM to authorise the establishment of a committee or panel

by the Content Board includes power to authorise the establishment of a

committee or panel that includes persons who are not members of the Board.

     (7)    In this section references to the publication of anything by means of the

electronic media are references to its being—

30

           (a)           broadcast so as to be available for reception by members of the public

or of a section of the public; or

           (b)           distributed by means of an electronic communications network to

members of the public or of a section of the public.

Functions for the protection of consumers

35

 14    Consumer research

     (1)    OFCOM must make arrangements for ascertaining—

           (a)           the state of public opinion from time to time about the manner in which

electronic communications networks and electronic communications

services are provided;

40

           (b)           the state of public opinion from time to time about the manner in which

associated facilities are made available;

           (c)           the experiences of consumers in the markets for electronic

communications services and associated facilities, in relation to the

manner in which electronic communications networks and electronic

45

 

 

 
previous section contents continue
 
House of Lords home page Houses of Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 2003
Revised 3 July 2003