Freeserve brings in Citigate to help shape UK internet

Internet services provider Freeserve has hired Citigate Public Affairs as its first retained lobbying agency.

The agency has been appointed on fees understood to be in the region of £100,000, following a five-way pitch against agencies including LLM Communications, which handled Freeserve’s public affairs work in the first quarter of the year on a project basis (PRWeek, 18 April).

Freeserve PR manager Nadia Schofield said: ‘Citigate will help us make a bigger contribution to the shaping of policy in the UK internet sector, and will assist us in helping the Government create the right environment to get more of the population online.’

Schofield said Freeserve wanted to ‘work with’ comms super-regulator Ofcom to ‘ensure the UK internet market is truly competitive’.

Freeserve is using its legal counsel, Baker & MacKenzie, to propose that a ‘competition panel’ is established within Ofcom. Freeserve’s proposed amendment to the Communications Bill was last month tabled in the House of Lords.

On 16 April the Competition Appeals Tribunal ruled that Freeserve was right to challenge the rejection of a complaint it made to Oftel about rival BT’s broadband pricing. A judgment is expected within six weeks.

Schofield said Citigate would also seek to position Freeserve regulatory and legal affairs chief David Melville as an ‘internet consumer champion’, although she added Freeserve’s corporate PR and press office work will continue to be handled in-house.

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