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The Office of Communications (Ofcom)

Ofcom company logo

You might have heard of it but what is Ofcom, and what does Ofcom stand for? The Office of Communications (Ofcom) is the official UK regulatory authority for the broadcasting, telecommunications and postal industries. This means that they represent the interests of UK citizens by protecting them from harmful material.

Ofcom also deals with complaints from businesses and citizens and run service reports to evaluate telecommunications services providers. The latest report is available to you and reports on higher performing providers like Sky and lower performing ones like TalkTalk. You can read about TalkTalks' status and more in the official report.


Who called me? UK and Ofcom

Man thinking

One of the areas that Ofcom regulates is the complaints area, providing tips to reduce and stop nuisance calls and guidance on who to go to to make a complaint. On their website they have a full guide which explains how to deal with nuisance calls.

Here at Selectra we have pulled out the best tips for dealing with complaints from Ofcom and summarised them for you below.

Nuisance calls and messages

Nuisance calls and messages are a fact of life that we have all probably dealt with in one way or another, or something we might have to deal with in the future. For some people, these don’t cause any harm as they just hang up or ignore these messages but for other people, this could be more stressful.

To reduce stress and deal with these nuisances in the best way possible it’s a great idea to be prepared. These are Ofcom’s recommendations on how to handle nuisance calls and messages and at Selectra we agree. We hope you find these tips useful.

  1. Always be careful who you give your contact information to (both in-person and online).
  2. Be careful with and take note of websites you give your contact information to for marketing purposes.
  3. Register your contact numbers with the TPS which blocks your number from telemarketer calls.
  4. Never give bank account information over the phone.
  5. Consider paying for a call blocker.
  6. Complain when you receive nuisance calls so that regulators can manage them.

Types of Nuisance calls

There are different types of nuisance calls and there might even be some types of calls that you don’t realise are nuisance calls. Take a look at this list below from Ofcom which will help you identify nuisance calls and therefore, which ones to report.

  • Silent calls: When the phone rings but there is no one on the other end.
  • Abandoned calls: When a message plays to tell you someone had tried to call you but that now no one is available to take your call.
  • Telesales calls: Direct calls from telemarketers.
  • Recorded marketing message calls: When a recorded message plays advertising a product or service.
  • Marketing faxes: When a marketing message is sent to your fax machine.
  • Marketing texts: When you receive a text message advertising a product or service.
  • Abusive calls: When someone you know or don’t know calls you and threatens or verbally abuses you.

In the case of any of the above, you can make a complaint to Ofcom.


Ofcom - The UK’s Telecom Watchdog

Eyes

As we found out earlier, Ofcom is responsible for regulating the broadcasting, telecommunications and postal industries so we can think of it as a kind of watchdog that’s keeping an eye on everything.

With this, comes the responsibility to create rules and regulations, make sure companies are being compliant and make sure that citizens are aware of their rights in this area.

Ofcom Regulations

Paper and pen

The regulations are conditions that all providers must comply with if they wish to provide telecommunications services to the UK. In 2017, Ofcom revised the previous regulations, updated them, and added some new ones.

You can read the full regulations or see below the main three areas they cover:

  • Network functioning conditions
  • Numbering and other technical conditions
  • Consumer protection conditions

BBC Press Office

House

The BBC is one of the UK's most important media broadcasters which means it also has to follow and comply with Ofcom's regulations. In turn, Ofcom is also required to comply with regulations set by The Royal Charter. One of those regulations is that an annual report has to be published about the BBC.

Ofcom ran an audit and published its first Annual Report on the BBC in 2018. These reports need to include the activities that were carried out, and an assessment of the compliance (or lack of) with Ofcom's operating framework. The report also assesses how the BBC performs against certain criteria related to the ever-changing media landscape.

Ofcom Coverage Checker

We all want the best possible internet connection for the best possible price but how do we know we are getting this? Well, apart from the fact that you can call us at Selectra for free and letting us help you get the best and cheapest broadband deal, you can also try out Ofcom's Mobile and Broadband Checker App.

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Ofcom Complaints

Telephone

If you see any harmful, offensive or abusive content on any phone, internet, TV or radio services you can make a complaint to Ofcom online or on the phone. The online forms are very straightforward and easy to use.

Just go to the relevant link below and follow the prompts to make a complaint. You can call Ofcom to talk to them directly and there are options for deaf and speech-impaired people.

Make a complaint via the web

To make complaints related to phones, internet or telecoms head to this online form.

To make complaints about something you saw or heard on the TV or radio, go to this form.

To make complaints related to something you saw on a website or app, go to this online form.

Make a complaint via phone

You can also contact Ofcom by phone from a landline or mobile. Calls should not cost more than calls to geographic numbers. Calls from landlines are unsuprisngly cheaper than calls from mobile numbers. 0300 123 3333 / 020 7981 3040

Make a complaint via writing

E-mail

You can also send a complaint in writing. PO Box 1285, Warrington WA1 9GL.

If your complaint is related to unfair treatment of your company or infringement of privacy, send your complaint directly to head office.

Apart from being able to complain about content you have seen, you can also complain about Ofcom directly if you think they are acting unfairly in any way.

If you have made a complaint to Ofcom about some content you have seen and are not happy with the outcome or the way they handled your complaint, you have the following options:

  1. Contact the team you dealt with directly.
  2. If this is not successful, you can contact the office of the Secretary to the Corporation (corporationsecretary@ofcom.org.uk). Be as clear and concise as possible.
  3. In the case that this is not successful, you can raise a complaint with the Parliamentary Ombudsman via your Member of Parliament.
  4. Finally, you can always seek independent legal advice.

You can also read in more detail the full list of advice Ofcom offers for making complaints.

Ofcom Jobs

Happy man with tick

Ofcom offers many job opportunities and if you are interested in a job with Ofcom you are encouraged to be on the lookout for current vacancies. They also hire graduates within their graduate scheme and offer apprenticeships and internships.

If you are looking for a career in telecommunications with a focus on TV, radio, communication and new technologies, don’t delay - have a look at Ofcom’s opportunities today!

According to Glassdoor reviews, some things employees like about working at Ofcom is the active promotion of work-life balance, working from home options, the interesting work and work rotation for graduates which allows them to get experience in different work tasks.

Some negative points about working at Ofcom seem to be around the time it takes to get pay rises or promotions.

Ofcom Broadcasting Code

Papers

Ofcom is also required to establish a broadcasting code for TV and radio to outline standards in programmes, sponsorship, product placement in TV programmes, fairness and privacy.

This is required under the Communications Act 2003 and it is recommended to read this code as a whole while taking note of the context the rules are being applied to, section headings in the code, and cross-references of other rules.

The code is structured by principles to be followed by broadcasters. The principles are meant to help readers understand telecommunications legislation and make sure they are compliant. The principles include things such as protecting under-eighteens, avoiding harm and offence, responsibility towards religious matters and more. The full code is readily available on the Ofcom website for everyone to access.

What Ofcom doesn’t do

Stop sign

Although Ofcom exists to protect the user from harmful material and is here if you need to make a complaint about a telecommunications provider, there are some related items that Ofcom doesn’t deal with.

They do not deal with disputes between people and their telecommunications provider, premium-rate telephone services, advertising standards, newspapers or magazines or what individuals publish on the internet.


Contact

Visit or send a letter to...

Ofcom, Riverside House, 2a Southwark Bridge Road, London, SE1 9HA

Phone or Fax...

Switchboard: 0300 123 3000
Fax: 020 7981 3333

Send an email to...

information.requests@ofcom.org.uk