England

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The Consumer Forum for Communications (CFC) promotes dialogue and information-sharing between consumer bodies and other relevant organisations about issues of common concern relating to communications policy and developments at UK, European and international level.

The Forum feeds into Ofcom’s policy priorities and thinking, and has a particular brief to ensure that the views and needs of consumers in vulnerable circumstances are represented in debate about communications issues. It has an independent chair, who is paid by Ofcom.

REVIEW

Views sought
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I am moving on to a new position in the US and have therefore, stepped down as Chair of Ofcom’s Advisory Committee for England (ACE) after chairing the committee from 2009.

On the day before my last meeting, on 12 June, I attended a reception at Oxford, wondering what the invited guests shared with each other. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was all about work with organisations like Ofcom.

SHAPING POLICY

Reflections on Chairing ACE
Google Glass

What comes after the mobile smart phone as we know it today? We’ve been talking to experts, reading what we can, and trying to imagine possible futures.

But we’re finding it very hard to gain a clear idea about what comes next. Many experts believe that we will get more of the same, such as an ever more powerful mobile phone that operates as a hub for multiple devices, ranging from keyboards to screens and other devices controlled by the hub*.

Issues over privacy and security will become even more critical to our lives
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Although it’s been around for a few months, I’ve only just discovered Natali Helberger’s paper for BEUC Forms matter: informing consumers effectively.

Give us your feedback
Racial diversity

The lovely thing about computers is that they have search facilities when it comes to scouring key words in documents. When you put ‘diversity’ into Ofcom’s Annual Plan 2014-15 it makes five references in its thousands of words.

All of them are rather anodyne, giving the impression to those of us passionate about diversity that it really is not at the heart of this regulator’s thinking, even though it is. Take, for example:

The eye has been taken off the racial diversity ball
Lenny Henry

Barnie Choudhury, my colleague on the Advisory Committee for England (ACE), brought my attention to Lenny Henry’s BAFTA speech, which is available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OQDDYgh5Jk

Yes, says Lenny Henry
Advice

A colleague on one of our advisory boards thought we should find a more appropriate name for Advice to Ofcom.

From her perspective, the blog is not focused on giving advice to Ofcom, but on communicating with the public about issues being considered by the advisory committees to Ofcom. She thought we could better and more accurately title the site.

She is right, of course, so I’d encourage colleagues to suggest a better name for the blog site. Thinking back to its recent origins, we took several points in mind in arriving at Advice to Ofcom.

Ideas welcome
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I spoke at a conference recently organized by ‘sociitm’, a group of local government practitioners in the UK who are focused on ‘delivering public services in the digital age’.

They began in organizing efforts to improve website development and continue to pursue a widening range of online points of access to public services.

Agencies are becoming interrelated
Wallace and Ian

Two long serving chairs of Ofcom’s Advisory Committees in the nations – Professor Wallace Ewart and Ian Clarke - are stepping down at the end of December.

Wallace (ACNI) and Ian (ACW) have been on their respective committees since 2004, taking over as chairs shortly afterwards. As such, they have seen plenty of changes within Ofcom, the sectors it regulates, and the way the organisation engages with the nations.

Progress

Both men helped push nations issues up Ofcom's agenda
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The devolved nations of the UK, along with the Advisory Committee for England, are charged with advising Ofcom on issues relating to the nations and regions.

Openness

The blog, Advice to Ofcom, has been developed to help open up discussion of these issues to a wider public. In that same spirit, Ofcom has recorded interviews with the heads of the various devolved nations’ committees to let them provide a more personal perspective on the role of their committees.

Feedback

Perspectives on Communication Issues from the Devolved Nations
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