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Reference > Media law & regulation > UK media laws > Communications Act 2003

UK media laws: Cinema and films


2003 c.21
An Act to confer functions on the Office of Communications; to make provision about the regulation of the provision of electronic communications networks and services and of the use of the electro-magnetic spectrum; to make provision about the regulation of broadcasting and of the provision of television and radio services; to make provision about mergers involving newspaper and other media enterprises and, in that connection, to amend the Enterprise Act 2002; and for connected purposes.


Transferred and assigned functions

1 Functions and general powers of OFCOM
2 Transfer of functions of pre-commencement regulators

General duties in carrying out functions

3 General duties of OFCOM
4 Duties for the purpose of fulfilling Community obligations
5 Directions in respect of networks and spectrum functions
6 Duties to review regulatory burdens
7 Duty to carry out impact assessments
8 Duty to publish and meet promptness standards
9 Secretary of State’s powers in relation to promptness standards

Accessible domestic communications apparatus

10 Duty to encourage availability of easily usable apparatus

Media literacy

11 Duty to promote media literacy

OFCOM’s Content Board

12 Duty to establish and maintain Content Board
13 Functions of the Content Board

Functions for the protection of consumers

14 Consumer research
15 Duty to publish and take account of research
16 Consumer consultation
17 Membership etc. of the Consumer Panel
18 Committees and other procedure of the Consumer Panel
19 Power to amend remit of Consumer Panel

Advisory committees

20 Advisory committees for different parts of the United Kingdom

21 Advisory committee on elderly and disabled persons

International matters

22 Representation on international and other bodies

23 Directions for international purposes in respect of broadcasting functions

General information functions

24 Provision of information to the Secretary of State
25 Community requirement to provide information
26 Publication of information and advice for consumers etc.

Employment in broadcasting

27 Training and equality of opportunity


28 General power to charge for services


29 Secretary of State guarantees for OFCOM borrowing

Provisions supplemental to transfer of functions

30 Transfers of property etc. from pre-commencement regulators
31 Transitional functions and abolition of pre-commencement regulators





32 Meaning of electronic communications networks and services

Notification by providers

33 Advance notification to OFCOM
34 Designations and requirements for the purposes of s.33
35 Notification of contraventions of s. 33
36 Enforcement notification for contravention of s.33
37 Penalties for contravention of s. 33

Administrative charges imposed on providers

38 Fixing of charges
39 Supplemental provision about fixing charges
40 Notification of non-payment of charges
41 Penalties for non-payment of charges
42 Suspending service provision for non-payment
43 Enforcement of directions under s. 42

Register of providers required to notify or to pay charges

44 Duty of OFCOM to keep publicly accessible register

Conditions of entitlement to provide network or service etc.

45 Power of OFCOM to set conditions
46 Persons to whom conditions may apply
47 Test for setting or modifying conditions
48 Procedure for setting, modifying and revoking conditions
49 Directions and approvals for the purposes of a s.45 condition
50 Delivery of copies of notifications etc.

General conditions: subject-matter

51 Matters to which general conditions may relate

General conditions: customer interests

52 Conditions relating to customer interests
53 Approval of codes of practice for the purposes of s.52
54 Approval of dispute procedures for the purposes of s.52
55 Orders by OFCOM in the absence of conditions under s.52

General conditions: telephone numbers

56 The National Telephone Numbering Plan
57 Conditions to secure access to telephone numbers
58 Conditions about allocation and adoption of numbers
59 Telephone numbering conditions binding non-providers
60 Modification of documents referred to in numbering conditions
61 Withdrawal of telephone number allocations
62 Numbering reorganisations
63 General duty as to telephone numbering functions

General conditions: must-carry obligations

64 Must-carry obligations

Universal service conditions

65 Obligations to be secured by universal service conditions
66 Designation of universal service providers
67 Subject-matter of universal service conditions
68 Tariffs etc. for universal services
69 Directories and directory enquiry facilities
70 Review of compliance costs
71 Sharing of burden of universal service obligations
72 Report on sharing mechanism

Access-related conditions

73 Permitted subject-matter of access-related conditions
74 Specific types of access-related conditions
75 Conditional access systems and access to digital services
76 Modification and revocation of conditions imposed under s.75

Privileged supplier conditions

77 Imposition of privileged supplier conditions

SMP conditions: procedure

78 Circumstances required for the setting of SMP conditions
79 Market power determinations
80 Proposals for identifying markets and for market power determinations
81 Delivery of copies of notifications under ss.79 and 80
82 European Commission’s powers in respect of proposals
83 Special rules for transnational markets
84 Review of services market identifications and determinations
85 Review of apparatus market identifications and determinations
86 Cases where review required

SMP services conditions: subject-matter

87 Conditions about network access etc.
88 Conditions about network access pricing etc.
89 Conditions about network access in exceptional cases
90 Conditions about carrier selection and pre-selection
91 Conditions about regulation of services etc. for end-users
92 Conditions about leased lines

SMP apparatus conditions: subject-matter

93 Conditions about apparatus supply

Enforcement of conditions

94 Notification of contravention of conditions
95 Enforcement notification for contravention of conditions
96 Penalties for contravention of conditions
97 Amount of penalty under s. 96
98 Power to deal with urgent cases
99 Confirmation of directions under s.98
100 Suspending service provision for contraventions of conditions
101 Suspending apparatus supply for contraventions of conditions
102 Procedure for directions under ss. 100 and 101
103 Enforcement of directions under ss. 98, 100 and 101
104 Civil liability for breach of conditions or enforcement notification

OFCOM’s duty to intervene on network access issues

105 Consideration and determination of network access questions

Electronic communications code

106 Application of the electronic communications code
107 Procedure for directions applying code
108 Register of persons in whose case code applies
109 Restrictions and conditions subject to which code applies
110 Enforcement of restrictions and conditions
111 Enforcement notification for contravention of code restrictions
112 Penalties for contravention of code restrictions
113 Suspension of application of code
114 Procedure for directions under s. 113
115 Modification and revocation of application of code
116 Notification of cessation by person to whom code applies
117 Transitional schemes on cessation of application of code
118 Compulsory acquisition of land etc.
119 Power to give assistance in relation to certain proceedings

Regulation of premium rate services

120 Conditions regulating premium rate services
121 Approval of code for premium rate services
122 Orders by OFCOM in the absence of a code under s.121
123 Enforcement of s.120 conditions
124 Suspending service provision for contraventions of s.120 conditions

Offences relating to networks and services

125 Dishonestly obtaining electronic communications services
126 Possession or supply of apparatus etc. for contravening s.125
127 Improper use of public electronic communications network

Persistent misuse of network or service

128 Notification of misuse of networks and services
129 Enforcement notifications for stopping persistent misuse
130 Penalties for persistent misuse
131 Statement of policy on persistent misuse

Powers to deal with emergencies

132 Powers to require suspension or restriction of a provider’s entitlement
133 Enforcement of directions under s. 132

Restrictions in leases and licences

134 Restrictions in leases and licences

Information provisions

135 Information required for purposes of Chapter 1 functions
136 Information required for related purposes
137 Restrictions on imposing information requirements
138 Notification of contravention of information requirements
139 Penalties for contravention of information requirements
140 Suspending service provision for information contraventions
141 Suspending apparatus supply for information contraventions
142 Procedure for directions under ss.140 and 141
143 Enforcement of directions under ss.140 and 141
144 Offences in connection with information requirements
145 Statement of policy on information gathering
146 Provision of information by OFCOM

Abolition of telecommunications licensing etc.

147 Repeal of provisions of Telecommunications Act 1984

Local authority powers in relation to networks and services

148 Powers of local authorities in connection with networks

Grants for networks and services in Northern Ireland

149 Grants by Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment
150 Grants by district councils

Interpretation of Chapter 1

151 Interpretation of Chapter 1



General functions relating to spectrum use

152 General functions of OFCOM in relation to radio spectrum
153 United Kingdom Plan for Frequency Authorisation
154 Duties of OFCOM when carrying out spectrum functions
155 Advisory service in relation to interference
156 Directions with respect to the radio spectrum
157 Procedure for directions under s.156

Reservation of spectrum for multiplex use

158 Special duty in relation to television multiplexes

Recognised spectrum access

159 Grant of recognised spectrum access
160 Effect of grant of recognised spectrum access
161 Charges in respect of grants of recognised spectrum access
162 Conversion into and from wireless telegraphy licences

Crown use of the radio spectrum

163 Payments for use of radio spectrum by the Crown

Limitations and exemptions applied to spectrum use

164 Limitations on authorised spectrum use
165 Terms etc. of wireless telegraphy licences
166 Exemption from need for wireless telegraphy licence

Award and transfer of licences

167 Bidding for wireless telegraphy licences
168 Spectrum trading

Variation and revocation of licences

169 Variation and revocation of wireless telegraphy licences

Wireless telegraphy register

170 Wireless telegraphy register

Information requirements

171 Information requirements in relation to wireless telegraphy licences

Criminal proceedings etc.

172 Contraventions of conditions for use of wireless telegraphy
173 Meaning of "repeated contravention" in s.172
174 Procedure for prosecutions of wireless telegraphy offences
175 Special procedure for contraventions by multiplex licence holders
176 Amount of penalty under s.175
177 "Relevant amount of gross revenue" for the purposes of s.176
178 Proceedings for an offence relating to apparatus use
179 Modification of penalties for certain wireless telegraphy offences
180 Fixed penalties for certain wireless telegraphy offences
181 Power of arrest
182 Forfeiture etc. of restricted apparatus

Construction of 1949 Act

183 Modification of definition of "undue interference"
184 Modification of definition of "wireless telegraphy"




185 Reference of disputes to OFCOM
186 Action by OFCOM on dispute reference
187 Legal proceedings about referred disputes
188 Procedure for resolving disputes
189 Disputes involving other member States
190 Resolution of referred disputes
191 OFCOM’s power to require information in connection with dispute


192 Appeals against decisions by OFCOM, the Secretary of State etc.
193 Reference of price control matters to the Competition Commission
194 Composition of Competition Commission for price control references
195 Decisions of the Tribunal
196 Appeals from the Tribunal

Interpretation of Chapter 3

197 Interpretation of Chapter 3





198 Functions of OFCOM in relation to the BBC


199 Functions of C4C
200 Removal of members of C4C
201 Deficits and surpluses of C4C
202 Borrowing limit for C4C

The Welsh Authority

203 Function of OFCOM in relation to the Welsh Authority
204 Welsh Authority’s function of providing S4C and S4C Digital
205 Powers to provide other services
206 Other activities of Welsh Authority
207 Welsh Authority finances

The Gaelic Media Service

208 The Gaelic Media Service
209 Membership of the Service
210 Supplementary provisions about the Service




211 Regulation of independent television services
212 Abolition of function of assigning television frequencies
213 Abolition of licensing for local cable systems

Channels 3 and 5

214 Digital Channel 3 and Channel 5 licences
215 Replacement of existing Channel 3 and Channel 5 licences
216 Renewal of Channel 3 and 5 licences
217 Financial terms of licence renewed under s. 216

The public teletext service

218 Duty to secure the provision of a public teletext service
219 Licensing of the public teletext service
220 Delegation of provision of public teletext service
221 Replacement of existing public teletext provider’s licence
222 Renewal of public teletext licence
223 Financial terms of licence renewed under s.222

Meaning of initial expiry date

224 Meaning of “initial expiry date”

Reviews relating to licensing of Channels 3 & 5 and teletext

225 Application for review of financial terms of replacement licences
226 Application for review of financial terms in consequence of new obligations
227 Reviews under ss.225 and 226
228 Giving effect to reviews under ss.225 and 226
229 Report in anticipation of new licensing round
230 Orders suspending rights of renewal

Replacement of Channel 4 licence

231 Replacement of Channel 4 licence

Television licensable content services

232 Meaning of "television licensable content service"
233 Services that are not television licensable content services
234 Modification of ss. 232 and 233
235 Licensing of television licensable content services
236 Direction to licensee to take remedial action
237 Penalties for contravention of licence condition or direction
238 Revocation of television licensable content service licence
239 Action against licence holders who incite crime or disorder
240 Abolition of separate licences for certain television services

Television multiplex services

241 Television multiplex services
242 Composition of services in television multiplexes
243 Powers where frequencies reserved for qualifying services

Local digital television services

244 Local digital television services




245 Regulation of independent radio services
246 Abolition of function of assigning radio frequencies

Radio licensable content services

247 Meaning of "radio licensable content services"
248 Services that are not radio licensable content services
249 Modification of ss. 247 and 248
250 Licensing of radio licensable content services
251 Abolition of separate licences for certain sound services

Licence periods etc.

252 Extension of licence periods
253 Extension and modification of existing licences
254 Renewal of local licences
255 Extension of special application procedure for local licences

Provision of simulcast radio services

256 Definition of simulcast radio services
257 Promotion of simulcast radio services

Multiplexes broadcasting sound programmes

258 Radio multiplex services
259 Composition of services in radio multiplexes
260 Digital sound services for inclusion in non-radio multiplexes
261 Renewal of radio multiplex licences

Community radio

262 Community radio



Application of regulatory regimes

263 Application of regulatory regimes

The public service remit for television

264 OFCOM reports on the fulfilment of the public service remit
265 Public service remits of licensed providers
266 Statements of programme policy
267 Changes of programme policy
268 Statements of service policy by the public teletext provider
269 Changes of service policy
270 Enforcement of public service remits
271 Power to amend public service remits

Must-offer obligations etc. affecting public service television

272 Must-offer obligations in relation to networks
273 Must-offer obligations in relation to satellite services
274 Securing reception of must-provide services in certain areas
275 Must-provide services for the purposes of s. 274
276 Co-operation with the public teletext provider

Programming quotas for public service television

277 Programming quotas for independent productions
278 Programming quotas for original productions

News provision etc. on public service television

279 News and current affairs programmes
280 Appointed news providers for Channel 3
281 Disqualification from appointment as news provider
282 Power to repeal or modify Channel 3 news provider provisions
283 News providers for Channel 5
284 News provision on the public teletext service

Independent and regional productions and programmes for public service television

285 Code relating to programme commissioning
286 Regional programme-making for Channels 3 and 5
287 Regional programmes on Channel 3
288 Regional programme-making for Channel 4
289 Regional matters in the public teletext service

Networking arrangements for Channel 3

290 Proposals for arrangements
291 Obligation as to making and continuance of approved arrangements
292 OFCOM’s power to impose arrangements
293 Review of approved networking arrangements etc.
294 Supplemental provision about networking arrangements

Special obligations for Channel 4

295 Involvement of C4 Corporation in programme-making
296 Schools programmes on Channel 4
297 Channel 4 contribution towards national television archive

Special obligation for the public teletext provider

298 Conditions prohibiting interference with other services

Sporting and other events of national interest

299 Categorisation of listed events
300 Effects of categorisation of listed events
301 Code relating to listed events
302 Regulations about coverage of listed events

Television services for the deaf and visually impaired

303 Code relating to provision for the deaf and visually impaired
304 Procedure for issuing and revising code under s.303
305 Meaning of "relevant date" in s.303
306 Power to modify targets in s.303
307 Observance of code under s.303
308 Assistance for the visually impaired with the public teletext service

Programming quotas for digital television programme services

309 Quotas for independent programmes

Regulation of electronic programme guides

310 Code of practice for electronic programme guides
311 Conditions to comply with code under s. 310

Character and coverage of radio services

312 Character and coverage of sound broadcasting services
313 Consultation about change of character of local services
314 Local content and character of local sound broadcasting services
315 Variations of radio multiplex licences affecting service characteristics

Competition between licensed providers etc.

316 Conditions relating to competition matters
317 Exercise of Broadcasting Act powers for a competition purpose
318 Review of powers exercised for competition purposes

Programme and fairness standards for television and radio

319 OFCOM’s standards code
320 Special impartiality requirements
321 Objectives for advertisements and sponsorship
322 Supplementary powers relating to advertising
323 Modification of matters to be taken into account under s.319
324 Setting and publication of standards
325 Observance of standards code
326 Duty to observe fairness code
327 Standards with respect to fairness
328 Duty to publicise OFCOM’s functions in relation to complaints

Power to proscribe unacceptable foreign television and radio services

329 Proscription orders
330 Effect of proscription order
331 Notification for enforcing proscription
332 Penalties for contravention of notification under s.331

Party political broadcasts on television and radio

333 Party political broadcasts

Monitoring of programmes

334 Retention and production of recordings

International obligations

335 Conditions securing compliance with international obligations

Government requirements for licensed services

336 Government requirements for licensed services

Equal opportunities and training

337 Promotion of equal opportunities and training

Corresponding rules for the BBC and Welsh Authority

338 Corresponding rules for the BBC and the Welsh Authority

Enforcement against the Welsh Authority

339 Review of fulfilment by Welsh Authority of public service remits
340 Directions to Welsh Authority to take remedial action
341 Imposition of penalties on the Welsh Authority
342 Contraventions recorded in Welsh Authority’s annual report
343 Provision of information by Welsh Authority

Enforcement of licence conditions

344 Transmission of statement of findings
345 Financial penalties imposable on licence holders
346 Recovery of fees and penalties

Broadcasting Act licence fees

47 Statement of charging principles



Restrictions on licence holders

348 Modification of disqualification provisions
349 Licence holding by local authorities
350 Relaxation of licence-holding restrictions

Changes of control

351 Changes of control of Channel 3 services
352 Action following review under s.351
353 Changes of control of Channel 5
354 Action following review under s.353
355 Variation of local licence following change of control
356 Action following review under s.355

Meaning of control

357 Meaning of "control"



Annual report on television and radio

358 Annual factual and statistical report

Community radio and local digital television

359 Grants to providers

Supplemental provisions of Part 3

360 Amendments of the 1990 and 1996 Acts
361 Meaning of "available for reception by members of the public"
362 Interpretation of Part 3



363 Licence required for use of TV receiver
364 TV licences
365 TV licence fees
366 Powers to enforce TV licensing
367 Interpretation of provisions about dealer notification
368 Meanings of "television receiver" and "use"





369 Matters in relation to which OFCOM have competition functions
370 OFCOM’s functions under Part 4 of the Enterprise Act 2002
371 OFCOM’s functions under the Competition Act 1998
372 Application of the Competition Act 1998 to news provision




373 Repeal of existing newspaper merger regime
374 Repeal of exclusion for newspaper mergers from general merger controls

Adaptation for media mergers of main merger regime

375 Media public interest considerations
376 Adaptation of role of OFT in initial investigations and reports
377 Additional investigation and report by OFCOM

Extension of special public interest regime

378 Extension of special public interest regime for certain media mergers
379 Adaptation of role of OFT in special public interest regime
380 Additional investigation and report by OFCOM: special public interest cases

New general functions in relation to media mergers

381 Public consultation in relation to media mergers
382 General information duties in relation to media mergers
383 Advice and information in relation to media mergers
384 General advisory functions of OFCOM in relation to media mergers
385 Other general functions of OFCOM in relation to media mergers
386 Monitoring role for OFT in relation to media mergers

Supplemental provisions of Chapter 2

387 Enforcement powers in relation to newspaper and other media mergers
388 Alterations concerning newspaper panel of Competition Commission
389 Further provision in connection with media mergers



Annual report

390 Annual report on the Secretary of State's functions

Review of media ownership

391 Review of media ownership

Guidelines as to penalties

392 Penalties imposed by OFCOM

Disclosure of information

393 General restrictions on disclosure of information

Notifications etc. and electronic working

394 Service of notifications and other documents
395 Notifications and documents in electronic form
396 Timing and location of things done electronically

Other miscellaneous provisions

397 Purchase of Duchy of Lancaster land
398 Repeal of certain provisions of the Telecommunications Act 1984


399 Expenses
400 Destination of licence fees and penalties
401 Power of OFCOM to retain costs of carrying out spectrum functions
402 Power of Secretary of State to make orders and regulations
403 Regulations and orders made by OFCOM
404 Criminal liability of company directors etc.
405 General interpretation
406 Minor and consequential amendments, transitionals and repeals
407 Pre-consolidation amendments
408 Transitional provision for anticipatory carrying out of functions
409 Modifications consequential on regulations implementing Directives
410 Application of enactments to territorial sea and other waters
411 Short title, commencement and extent



Schedule 1 — Functions transferred to OFCOM

Schedule 2 — Transfer schemes

Schedule 3 — Amendments of Schedule 2 to the Telecommunications Act 1984

Schedule 4 — Compulsory purchase and entry for exploratory purposes

Schedule 5 — Procedure for grants of recognised spectrum access

Schedule 6 — Fixed penalties for wireless telegraphy offences

Schedule 7 — Seizure and forfeiture of apparatus

Schedule 8 — Decisions not subject to appeal

Schedule 9 — Arrangements about carrying on of C4C’s activities

Schedule 10 — Licensing the public teletext service
   Part 1 — Applications for and award of licence
   Part 2 — Conditions and enforcement of licence
   Part 3 — Interpretation of Schedule

Schedule 11 — Approval, imposition and modification of networking arrangements

Schedule 12 — Corresponding obligations of the BBC and Welsh Authority
   Part 1 — The BBC
   Part 2 — The Welsh Authority

Schedule 13 — Financial penalties under the Broadcasting Acts
   Part 1 — Broadcasting Act 1990
   Part 2 — Broadcasting Act 1996

Schedule 14 — Media ownership rules
   Part 1 — Channel 3 services
   Part 2 — Radio multiplex services
   Part 3 — Local sound programme services
   Part 4 — Religious bodies etc.
   Part 5 — Supplemental provisions of Schedule

Schedule 15 — Amendments of Broadcasting Acts
   Part 1 — Amendments of the 1990 Act
   Part 2 — Amendments of the 1996 Act

Schedule 16 — Further amendments in connection with media mergers

Schedule 17 — Minor and Consequential Amendments

Schedule 18 — Transitional Provisions

Schedule 19 — Repeals


Cinema and film laws
Alphabetical list of statutes.


Page created 1 August 2003
© David Fisher