Government announces Ofcom head

Lord David Currie has little experience of telecommunications, but the government says his economics background and a stint as gas regulator will be enough

The government announced on Thursday that Lord David Currie will be the first chairman of Ofcom.

Lord Currie, a Labour peer in the House of Lords, will be paid £133,000 per year in return for working up to four days per week. He will play a key role in the creation of Ofcom -- a new super-regulator that will oversee the UK's broadcasting, telecommunications and radiocommunications sectors.

The 55-year-old is currently the Dean of London's City University Business School, where he is also professor of Business Economics. Until April this year he served on the management board of Ofgem, the gas and electricity regulator.

"I am honoured and delighted to take on this crucial and challenging post. The UK is leading the world in establishing an integrated, world-class regulator that will set the conditions for the UK communications industry to flourish. I relish the opportunity to make that happen," said Lord Currie in a statement.

Currie's grasp of economics will be useful when considering the tricky question of spectrum charging. However, apart from a stint of consultancy work for Orange earlier this year, he has little previous experience in the telecommunications sector. According to the government, though, this isn't a problem.

"The decision has been taken that Lord Currie is the best person to lead Ofcom," a DTI spokesman told ZDNet UK. "Once Ofcom is up and running he will be able to call on the skills and experiences of the members of the Ofcom board," he added.

It has been rumoured that David Edmonds, director-general of Oftel, was interested in the top job at Ofcom. It now seems likely that he will join the Ofcom board when its membership is decided, probably later this year.

Ofcom will come into existence once the Communications Bill becomes law, in late 2003 or 2004.

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