DCMS Communications Policy To Focus On Consumers And ‘Harmful Content’

Simplified spectrum rules, better TV, a crackdown on “harmful content” and “nuisance calls” all part of the new strategy

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has today published its communications policy, claiming it wants to improve consumer experiences.

Among the most important changes is a new, “more flexible” spectrum management system, which will allow Ofcom to redistribute frequencies that are underused. The policy will also tackle issues such as unsolicited “nuisance calls”, unexpected bills and loosely regulated adult material available through video on demand.

“The government will ensure consumers are protected from potentially harmful content, soaring costs and contracts that don’t meet their needs,” said Culture Secretary Maria Miller as she announced the new strategy.

There’s a change coming

The collection of policy papers entitled “Connectivity, content and consumers: Britain’s digital platform for growth” outlines plenty of changes for the media and communications sector in the UK.

Gov.uk squareUnder the new rules, government will allow “dynamic” spectrum access, making it simpler to share the same frequency bands between several users. At the same time, parts of the spectrum that are not used to their full capacity could be returned to Ofcom for redistribution, with original owners getting a cut of auction proceedings.

“If changes are not made there is a possibility of regulatory failure that could stifle a well-functioning market to the detriment of technological innovation and growth,” read the Impact Assessment for spectrum management.

The government also plans to change the law to make it easier for regulators to track down the companies responsible for unsolicited marketing. The new policy could introduce lower threshold for fines, and help prevent nuisance callers from concealing their numbers. If that doesn’t help, DCMS said it will consider a call centre licensing scheme.

The new policy aims to secure the place of traditional terrestrial broadcasters in the age of digital television, paying special attention to TV listings. “We want the high quality programmes that reflect and define us as a nation to continue to be easy to find and access, and we will consult on how to achieve this,” read a statement from the DCMS.

Finally, the government will launch a consultation on media plurality, which will look at the industry in the wake of Leveson inquiry. The consultation will help construct a framework which will be used to produce the first market analysis of media plurality in the UK.

“The communications industry has undergone change at an unprecedented pace over the last decade,” added Miller. “In this digital age we must ensure the needs of the consumer are not lost in the dash for progress and the changes we are making will put the British public at the heart of the sector.”

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