Large broadcasters face bigger fines from Ofcom | Media | The Guardian
Regulator to take company’s total turnover into account before deciding on penalties so they act as more of a deterrent

Larger broadcasters and communications companies face bigger fines under new rules adopted by the regulator Ofcom.

Ofcom will now take into account total turnover when deciding penalties to impose on firms which breach its rules in a bid to increase their deterrent effect.

The seriousness of a breach will also be given more weight, while precedent set by historical cases will be less important in deciding on the level of fines.

The decision to update the guidelines was driven partly by a realisation that previous penalties imposed since the guidelines were last updated in 2011 had rarely exceeded 1% of turnover for the companies involved and were not an effective deterrent to breaches.

An Ofcom spokesperson said: “The main aim of imposing a penalty is to deter regulatory breaches. The changes we’ve made will help strengthen that deterrent effect by enabling us to impose higher penalties where appropriate and proportionate to do so.”

The changes follow a consultation which took contributions from 14 interested organisations, half of which were from companies which Ofcom regulates. Four organisations supported the proposals while the rest did not.

Ofcom’s penalty structure varies between contraventions, with some upper limits set at a maximum of 10% of a firm’s turnover and others a set sum. The regulator does not offer a list of fines for different breaches of its rules as it says this would undermine its desire to ensure companies comply.

The largest fine so far levied on a broadcaster was the £5.68m paid in 2008 by ITV over the “abuse” of premium-rate phone lines in a number of hit shows including Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, Ant and Dec’s Gameshow Marathon and Soapstar Superstar.
Comment: Perhaps both Ofcom and the ASA can start using those false nashers to to start biting the ISPs who keep breeching advertising standards in a similar way? Sky is not an innocent party here, but many of the other providers have a considerably wore record. Each time they mislead customers in order to gain more and each time it is those customers who were deceived who have to pay the penalty.