Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Thursday 8/1/2004"Hail, Citizen-Consumer!"Er, what?

Thursday 8/1/2004
"Hail, Citizen-Consumer!"

Er, what? This chilling phrase -- more redolent of an Orwellian dystopia than anything previously issuing from Nu-Lab Central -- now meets those who go looking for information on radio regulatory issues. Previously the gamut of those jolly chaps and gung-ho lasses in the Radiocommunications Agency, their function has been assumed by uber-regulator Ofcom -- and correspondingly, their Web site has been eaten whole by the big purple amoeba that is  It sits there, frozen in time, in the Legacy Regulators museum, mute testament to a universe that halted on the 19th December 2003.

So if you want to read up on the latest goings-on in wireless, you just click on the radio regulatory part of the new Web site, right? Er, no. There is no such part. There is a list of recent press releases -- but as Ofcom is mostly about regulating broadcasters and telephone companies and newspaper proprietors, that's what most of the press releases are about.  How about finding the radio division? It's not clear that one exists -- there are various organelles hidden away in the regulatory protoplasm, but they are called things like Strategy Development and Market Research. Trying to find out what these do is an exercise in wading through the fluffiest consultant speak in Christendom: whatever it is that Ofcom actually does, enriching consultants must be very high on the list.

And so, this particular Citizen-Consumer has to sadly report that his job has got a lot harder. No longer is it possible to take in all recent developments in the UK's radio regulatory firmament with just one click of the mouse. It's ironic that Ofcom has regurgitated this horrible blancmange of a Web site at much the same time that the older Government Web sites are coming under fire for lack of usability and general dreadfulness -- and not for the first time.