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Current hot topics - tell us what you think.

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The Scottish Government has just published Scotland’s Future, its hefty policy blueprint for independence.

One section of this document is of special relevance to Ofcom’s Advisory Committee for Scotland(ACS), namely Chapter 9, which deals with how the Scottish Government envisages the future of broadcasting and communications regulation in an independent country.

The debate steps up a gear
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
CAB

The plan to reduce the welfare budget by £18 billion will have significant implications for the Citizens Advice service and the thousands of individuals who seek its help each year. In addition, it is the UK government’s mission to get up to 80% of welfare benefits applications submitted online.

This leaves Citizens Advice with the difficult issue of sticking to the provision of advice or going further and actively helping those struggling with electronic applications to get online.

IT training?

Digital gap turning into a dgital gulf
as seen on tv

I am a keen watcher of top English football, so many a winter Saturday afternoon or weekday evening will find me indulging that passion.

No one who shares this interest will have failed to notice the intensive betting advertising that now surrounds football. Not only is every advertising break seemingly dominated by the inducement to bet, but many pitch-side hoardings carry the apparent exaltation of betting for the full 90 minutes. Watching football, it has become inescapable to watch betting promotion.

Ofcom research

Fivefold increase since 2006
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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
Victor Meldrew

Throughout my participation in the Advisory Committee for England (ACE), the committee has been trying to address the many issues confronting consumers trying to deal with problems with various communication services.

So it is very good to see a report based on good qualitative research that illuminates these issues.

Going round in circles

Report urges providers to improve the customer contact experience
Media

The Ofcom Advisory Committee for Scotland has recently responded to the DCMS’s consultation on media ownership and plurality.

Fourteen years on from devolution, the consultation’s failure to explicitly address the distinct needs of the diverse nations of the UK is an astonishing lapse.

Online media

Plurality should be reviewed every five years
Tortoise

Ofcom's Advisory Committee for England will be revisiting an issue that continues to be unresolved: How fast must internet speeds be to meet our needs in Britain?

We know there are discrepancies in speed of networks within Britain, such as between deep rural and urban areas.

These are relatively straightforward to discuss on such criteria as equity, and efforts to enable rural areas to develop a digital economy, and not disadvantage businesses, such as B&Bs in rural areas, where the lack of broadband connections can undermine their viability.

Expect the unexpected and plan for it...
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Ofcom’s Advisory Committee for Wales (ACW) feels that it is an opportune time to re-examine Channel 4’s remit and its meaning.

While Channel 4 attempts to address the portrayal of ethnic and sexual minorities, as well as disabled people, we believe that the concept of ‘a culturally diverse society’ does not adequately demonstrate the need for the Channel to reflect the cultural diversity of all the component countries of the UK.

UK nations' diversity not properly represented in channel's output
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The Ofcom Advisory Committee for Wales has recently submitted a response to the DCMS consultation on media ownership and plurality to provide our views on how we create and maintain a plurality of media voices in Wales and the other nations of the UK.

The devolved nations represent distinct democratic units within the UK, with their own democratic institutions. Therefore, media plurality in news and current affairs plays a vital role in ensuring a well-functioning democratic society in these nations.

NATIONS ANGLE

Diversity as important as market share