Telecoms regulator in attack on Govt policy

Telecoms regulator in attack on Govt policy
Oftel boss calls for complete overhaul of telecoms act; especially licensing policy “The award of these licences…is a time consuming interventionist…process”, reports Richard Wilson Don Cruickshank, the out-going director general of telecommunications, has called for a complete overhaul of the government’s telecommunications and broadcast regulatory policy. This week he will tell MPs that the current licensing scheme, which he has policed over the past few years, is over complicated and difficult to enforce in the present highly competitive communications sector. He called for urgent government action to put rules in place to make sure UK businesses and consumers were not penalised. Cruickshank, who leaves Oftel at the month’s end to become chairman of the government’s Action 2000 Millennium bug initiative, was more outspoken and critical of the government’s licensing policy than any other telecoms regulator. “The award of these licences, the monitoring of them and the enforcement of licence breaches is a time consuming, interventionist and often inefficient process,” he said. He called for legislation to scrap the current Telecommunications Act and much of the Broadcasting Acts, “as soon as possible”, and to put in place special rules for the electronic communications industry, and the regulatory system to enforce it. The significance of Cruickshank’s comments will not be lost on telephone operator BT, which has borne the brunt of much of the telecoms regulation over the past decade. “He is obviously setting up some pretty major stuff,” a BT spokeswoman said. Most important to BT is a speedy relaxation of regulations restricting the broadcast TV services it can carry on its national phone network. Cruickshank, who will make his comments to the Department for Culture Media and Sport select committee this week, will also call for an end to public service broadcasting requirements for ITV3 and Channel 5.


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