Ofcom hires Peel for integration challenge

Independent Television Commission public affairs chief Richard Peel has been hired as PR boss for the comms 'super-regulator' Ofcom.

The appointment, one of the first at a senior level made by Ofcom chairman Lord Currie, signals a stepping up of internal and external comms.

Ofcom - which currently exists in shadow form and is expected to launch in autumn next year - will merge the functions of five existing regulatory bodies: the ITC, the Broadcasting Standards Commission, Oftel, the Radio Authority and the Radio Communications Agency.

Peel - who reports to the Ofcom board, most of whom have now been appointed - has been managing comms for one of the 'transition teams' that are handling the integration of the five organisations.

'As a regulator, Ofcom will be light-handed, but it will be firm where intervention is necessary,' said Peel.

He said the merger of the organisations will result in a 'big internal comms challenge', adding that decisions had not yet been taken on staffing levels, but that 'inevitably there will be changes in roles and some job losses are possible'.

Ofcom will have regulatory powers covering broadcasting and telecoms networks.

In recent months Ofcom - in particular Lord Currie - has retained agency HMC for media relations work.

The appointment of Peel - initially on a six-month secondment - ends HMC's relationship, but Peel said the agency 'may be used again by Ofcom in the future'.

Peel joined the ITC as director of public affairs, nations and regions, in January 2000, taking charge of a 55-strong team across public affairs, media relations, internal comms and publications.

Before that he was director of corporate affairs for the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

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