Ofcom chief executive Sharon White was called to address the parliamentary culture, media and sport select committee. During
the course of the session White told the MPs that she is paid £275,000 a year.
She seemed keen on expanding Ofcom's remit to take on the censorship portion of the BBC Trust's current role. She did however baulk at the suggestion to take on wider governance of the BBC.
White said Ofcom already regulated various aspects of the BBC's output, including issues around decency and harm and offence, and said if the government wanted it to extend its responsibilities to bias and impartiality we will do the best
possible job .
But she also warned there would be resourcing implications for the censor, which deals with around 25,000 complaints a year, a tenth of the 250,000 complaints that are received by the BBC on an annual basis.
White was quick to belittle a further option that another body entirely should pick up the BBC censorship role. White warned that concern should be taken that a new OfBeeb-style body did not clash or cause confusion with the role of Ofcom. But she
laughed off suggestions of a looming turf war .
On the topic of extremist religious broadcasting, White said that Ofcom has not been hampered by lack of legislation in cracking down on extremist broadcasts following David Cameron said it should be given beefed-up powers to tackle the issue.
This was identified as one of the key pillars of Cameron's five-year counter extremism strategy unveiled on Monday, in which he said Ofcom would be given new powers to take action against foreign channels that broadcast hate preachers.
White told MPs on the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee:
We haven't found that we have been unable to act because the legislation hasn't given us the powers.
Where do you place cause and effect, between television and content being a powerful influencer, and that reflecting growing views in society? It's a very difficult judgment to make ... One suspects that it will vary by community, even by
She said Ofcom had a very good monitoring department that looked at potentially extremist content but added:
Depending on the detail of the prime minister's statement and how that gets reflected in legislation ... we would need to look at the team and whether it would need some extra resourcing.
Ofcom shares the government's concerns about harmful, extremist content, and we have taken action against a number of channels. We are continuing to work closely with the government to ensure audiences remain protected.
But she said the regulator's remit with regard to the internet was rather limited, to the broadcasting of stuff that looks like it's been on the television, in the terrible jargon, TV-like content . Ofcom's remit does not cover content on
the open internet.