Ofcom’s new president has said the broadcast watchdog “doesn’t, and shouldn’t” regulate so-called culture wars.
In his first major public address since his appointment to the role in May, Lord Michael Grade emphasized Ofcom’s independence from “personal preference” and “political pressure”.
The former TV executive, who has held senior positions at BBC, ITV and Channel 4, spoke before the RTS London 2022 Convention as the UK keynote speaker.
He suggested that the public debate had become “an angry battleground of bitter divisions” before adding: “Why is this important to Ofcom? Here, I want to be very clear: Ofcom does not, and should not, regulate culture wars.
“Some try to encourage us for their cause. But we don’t care. That is not our job.
“Whether we are assessing that Piers Morgan’s comments about the Duchess of Sussex are justified by free speech, or Diversity’s tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement – we are not Never make decisions based on personal preference, political pressure, fear or preference.
“Instead, we all leave our different opinions at the door. We focus on the legal framework and the mandates that Parliament has given us, and make prudent, balanced decisions based on the evidence.”
Lord Grade, who was a former Conservative Party colleague, said Ofcom should not seek to “correct the tone of debate on social media, either now or through our new mandates”.
He added, “However, I am personally concerned – as I am sure you are – about the need for tolerant debate.
“That is important to me not only as a citizen and MP, but also as someone who has managed to champion our world-class broadcasting sector.
“Because broadcasting has a unique ability to provide a fair, accurate and reliable platform for calm differences, considered
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Our role is to provide research and evidence, regulate our regulation and inform Parliament about policy choices and their impact.Ofcom’s boss, Lord Michael Grade
“Those views are needed more than ever for a stable society and a strong democracy.”
Prior to his appointment, Lord Grade voiced support for the privatization of Channel 4 and criticized the BBC’s coverage of events such as Downing Street parties as “fun and disrespectful”.
But he said his personal opinion would be focused on his Ofcom role.
Speaking about the future of public service broadcasters (PSBs), he said: “Well, before I joined Ofcom, or even thought of applying, I never hesitated to express my opinion on this. this.
“But personal opinion – especially mine – is not the currency of Ofcom’s work.
“Our role is to provide research and evidence, regulate our regulation and inform Parliament about policy choices and their impact.”
Lord Grade said there are “long-term questions” to answer for PSB.
“BBC funding, Channel 4 ownership and how the law can level the playing field where PSB competes with US streamers. These are Government and Parliament matters, not Ofcom’s,” he said.
However, he added that they need to be protected, saying: “For all of these reasons, any proposed changes to the PSB framework must be examined for their potential impact on invest in our innovative industries.
“Very simply, these achievements are the fruit of public policy. We must do nothing to put them at risk.
“I’m sure Congress will keep that in mind when looking at the current arrangements.”
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/ofcom-boss-lord-grade-says-watchdog-should-not-regulate-culture-wars-42021511.html Ofcom boss Lord Grade says watchdog should not regulate ‘culture wars’