The Office of Communications (Ofcom) is the UK’s broadcasting, telecommunications and postal regulatory body. It became the BBC’s first external regulator in 2017.
The principal functions of Ofcom in relation to the BBC are to:
- Prepare and publish an Operating Framework containing the provisions it considers appropriate to secure the effective regulation of the activities of the BBC
- Set an operating licence for the UK Public Services containing the regulatory conditions it considers appropriate for the BBC to deliver its mission and public purposes
- Determine appropriate measures to assess the performance of the BBC's UK Public Services
- Set requirements to protect fair and effective competition in relation to material changes to UK Public Service and non-service activities
- Set requirements in relation to the interaction between the BBC and its commercial activities to ensure that the commercial activities do not, as a result of their relationship with the UK Public Services, trading activities or non-service activities, distort the market or gain an unfair competitive advantage
- Regulate the content standards of the BBC’s television, radio and on-demand programmes, in accordance with Ofcom’s Standards and fairness codes.
Ofcom will publish an annual report which will set out how it has carried out its functions as the BBC's independent regulator, and assesses the BBC’s compliance with the requirements of the Operating Framework, Operating Licence and associated documents.
Further information about Ofcom and how it regulates the BBC can be found on its website.
BBC World Service
BBC World Service is not regulated by Ofcom. Instead the BBC is responsible for setting its overall strategic direction, the budget and guarding its editorial independence for World Service. It must set and publish a Licence for the World Service, which defines its remit, scope, annual budget and main commitments, as well as "objectives, targets and priorities" which are agreed with the Foreign Secretary.
The BBC must report in reasonable detail on World Service in the annual report and elsewhere as appropriate. The Chair of the Board of the BBC and the Foreign Secretary (or their nominated representatives) will meet at least annually to review the performance of the World Service against the objectives, priorities and targets as defined in the Licence.