HC Deb 15 May 2002 vol 385 cc633-4W
Miss McIntosh

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport for what reasons the proposed contents board was not included in the original Bill to set up the Office of Communications; what the composition of the contents board will be; and what the remit of the contents board will be in relation to radio. [56031]

Dr. Howells

The Government published a draft of the Communications Bill on 7 May for consultation. This draft Bill includes a proposal to require Ofcom to establish a 'Content Board' which will have the principal function of ensuring that the public interest in the nature and quality of television and radio programmes is sufficiently represented within Ofcom's overall structure.

The OFCOM Act 2002, which established Ofcom earlier this year, dealt with the basic framework of Ofcom at the main board level and was intended to allow the process of establishing Ofcom as a body to get under way while the substantive Communications Bill, which will give it regulatory responsibilities, is debated. The structure and remit of the content board are best seen in conjunction with Ofcom's functions, in particular the detailed broadcasting functions which are set out in the draft Communications Bill and particularly in relation to broadcast content including radio.

The structure of the content board is set out clearly in the draft Bill. It will consist of a chairman, who will be a non-executive member of Ofcom (but not the chairman of Ofcom), and as many other members appointed by Ofcom as Ofcom shall think fit. Ofcom is specifically required to ensure that there is a different member of the content board capable of representing the interests and opinions of persons living in each of the nations of the United Kingdom.