UK government resists establishment appointment for Ofcom boss

The newly-elected Tory government is reportedly pushing back on Ofcom’s desire to give its top job to another member of the UK establishment.

Departed CEO Sharon White was a senior civil servant before she got the gig a few years ago and now that she’s moving on the opportunity exists to bring a different approach to regulating the UK communications sector. Late last year it was reported that Ofcom wanted another civil servant and apparent ‘safe pair of hands’ Melanie Dawes to get the gig, but the requisite approval from the government has not been forthcoming.

Now the Telegraph reports that the reason for this is the desire of the new administration to get someone who might actually know a thing or two about the telecoms business to run its telecoms regulator. The Johnson government is said to be very keen to shake up the permanent political establishment, with top adviser apparently very keen to have more people with skills other than climbing the political career ladder in key roles.

The report claims the government is going direct to industry to try to persuade grizzled, entrepreneurial types that becoming a regulator is more exciting than it sounds. One of the more fun bits may involve harassing the BBC, which today announced the departure of its Director General to enable a new one to get fully warmed up before they have to start justifying the license fee in a few years’ time.

The Telegraph spoke to a few anonymous industry folk who said they had been approached about the role, but didn’t fancy it because it takes so long to get anything done in the public sector and they reckoned the role would become politicised. It’s hard to argue against that perspective, when you add the intensely political climate around 5G and fibre to the BBC stuff. Finding an industry figure who it competent and driven, but also able to play politics won’t be easy, but it’s good to see a willingness to wait for the right person.

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