Given the previous history of bodies set up by government to monitor any area – let alone one so volatile as media – it was surely only a matter of time before fists were flying.
Well, for fear of speaking too soon, Ofcom has not only managed to negotiate this minefield in its first year – which it will celebrate officially in a couple of weeks – but come out with praise from a string of heavyweight media organisations ringing in its ears.
It takes a lot to get the IPA talking
The people in its office may be a little grey – but that’s probably just from sheer exhaustion caused by the amount of work they have to do.
From policing the contract rights renewal process, which was a war between agencies and ITV waiting to happen, to tackling the previously all powerful BBC, Ofcom has hardly put a foot wrong – at least as far as the commercial sector is concerned.
It was billed in its early days as an organisation that would have a light touch. Bearing in mind most government-funded regulators in the past have had all the subtlety of a sledge hammer, this was a tall order.
But once again, Ofcom has pulled it off. ITV said this week the mantra had “shone through” in its work to date.
Most unlikely of all, the suits of Southwark Bridge have even, according to senior agency and advertiser sources, managed to avoid being aloof, which chief executive Stephen Carter admits in this issue was his biggest fear.
Special praise must go to Carter, the former JWT and NTL man.
As one leading advertising figure said this week: “The first thing you need to run an organisation like Ofcom is brains and he has them by the bucket load.”
If all this makes you want to reach for a bucket, then any Scrooges out there can reassure themselves with the fact that there are many opportunities yet for it all to go pear shaped.
With crucial rulings on junk food advertising, the marketing of alcohol, consolidation in the radio sector and digital switchover – not to mention a complete overhaul of the TV trading system to come – surely it’s only a matter of time.
In the meantime, well done Ofcom.