Ofcom appoints new permanent CEO

Telecoms regulator Ofcom has appointed Dame Melanie Dawes as its new chief executive, replacing interim CEO Jonathan Oxley.

Dawes had been permanent secretary at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government since 2015 and has held senior roles across the civil service, including positions at the Treasury and Cabinet Office.

She also chairs the Civil Service People Board and leads efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in the service. Away from government, Dawes has held non-executive roles with Which? and is a trustee of the Patchwork Foundation.

New Ofcom CEO

“Ofcom plays a crucial role in ensuring that people and businesses across the UK get the best from their communications services,” said Dawes. “It’s a great privilege to be appointed as Chief Executive at a time of significant change in the sectors Ofcom regulates.”

Her appointment marks the end of the search for a permanent successor to Sharon White, who is now at John Lewis. White had been in the role for four years, a tenure that saw a number of measures designed to aid consumers (such as automatic compensation and easier switching between providers) and promote investment in network infrastructure.

She also oversaw the once-in-a-decade review of the UK communications market, which resulted in the formal separation of BT and Openreach, as well as the UK’s first auction of 5G spectrum.

Oxley had been named interim CEO late last year, with the regulator stating it would wait until after December’s General Election to make a long-term appointment.

Ofcom Chairman Lord Burns said he was looking forward to working with Dawes to not only improve mobile and broadband coverage, but also to implement the regulator’s new role in monitoring ‘harmful’ content on tech platforms.

However, Burns will step down later this year after Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan expressed a preference for a single Chair to oversee the implementation of these new responsibilities.

“I congratulate Dame Melanie Dawes on her appointment as chief executive of Ofcom,” said Morgan. “Melanie’s experience leading organisations through change will be vital as the Government today announces it is minded to appoint the organisation as regulator for new online harms laws.

“I would also like to thank Lord Burns for his work as Chair of the organisation. He has provided expert stewardship and will leave the media and telecoms regulator in a strong position.”

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