Ofcom (partially found British broadcast communication regulator statements; 2003-present)

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Ofcom logo.

Status: Partially Found

The Office of Communications, often abbreviated as Ofcom, is the official British communication services regulator. Created as part of the Office of Communications Act 2002, it was officially formed on December 29th, 2003 after a merger of organisations like the Broadcasting Standards Commission and the Independent Television Commission. Since then, it has regulated broadband and phone services, as well as ensuring television and radio broadcasters conform to its Broadcasting Code.[1] Over the years, Ofcom has ordered various television broadcasters to read out and display its Summary of Adjudication messages as penalties for breaching the Code.


The Broadcasting Code is made up of ten main sections, designed to ensure "fairness and privacy" among television and radio broadcasts.[2] These range from ensuring that individuals and organisations presented in programmes are fairly treated, to enforcing broadcasts that are impartial and do not harm those viewing it. Broadcasters are responsible for complying with the Code.[2][1]

In the event a broadcaster is deemed to have potentially broken the Code, Ofcom will investigate the matter.[3][2] This often stems from viewer complaints, which can range from programmes they viewed or appeared in, to advertisements being broadcast during breaks in programmes.[4][2] If Ofcom believes there is a possibility that a broadcast made Code violations, a full investigation is made.[3] Upon an investigation's conclusion, Ofcom may conclude that the broadcaster has indeed violated the Code and will often subsequently impose sanctions against it.[3] These can include fines, as well as directing the offending broadcaster to transmit a Summary of Adjudication on its channel that briefly details the findings made by Ofcom and additional sanctions it may impose on the broadcaster.[3] The full Adjudications are available on Ofcom's website.[5]

Based on the available Adjudications, summaries are often broadcast upon a broadcaster breaking regulations concerning phone-in competitions, as well as broadcasting harmful material. Infamous examples include Channel 4 being found to have breached the Code on four separate occasions following Ofcom receiving 44,500 complaints concerning racist comments primarily made by British contestants Jade Goody, Danielle Lloyd, and Jo O'Meara against Indian contestant Shilpa Shetty during the fifth season of Celebrity Big Brother.[6] Another involved GMTV being fined £2 million in October 2007, upon Ofcom finding that the premium rate telephone services used by GMTV for its phone-in competitions resulted in most viewers having a diminished or non-existent of winning.[7]


A Summary of Adjudication can be broadcast at any time that Ofcom sees fit, and on any television channel. Since they are typically not repeated beyond their original broadcasts, most summaries are now lost media. Of the many summaries broadcast over the years, only five are fully available online, with another being partially lost. The full Adjudications provide evidence of other summaries being broadcast, including one concerning the Channel 4 programme The Great Global Warming Swindle.[8]



Summary concerning the racist behaviour broadcast on Celebrity Big Brother.

Summary where Ofcom announced it fined GMTV for the issues concerning the premium-rate phone-in competitions.

Summary of Adjudication regarding viewer voting in Soapstar Superstar.

Partially found summary concerning viewer competitions for Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway and Ant & Dec's Gameshow Marathon.

Ofcom upholding a complaint made by Dr Roger Mugford about the Insight episode "Bad Dog."

Ofcom investigating a complaint centring around an accusation of theft made during a live MATV broadcast.

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