The inaugural chairman of Ofcom is David Currie, Dean of Cass Business School at City University and a life peer under the title Lord Currie of Marylebone. Its inaugural chief executive was Stephen Carter, formerly a senior executive of JWT UK and NTL. Its second, and current chief executive, is Ed Richards, formerly Ofcom strategy partner and COO and, previous to joining Ofcom, a government advisor.
Some of the main areas over which Ofcom presides are licensing, undertaking research, creating codes and policies, addressing complaints and looking into competition. Ofcom has developed a reputation for its tendency to issue a large number of consultations (there was even a consultation on the consultations). This however reflects Ofcom's intention to operate in a more open and accountable manner, being receptive to public and industry comments.
Ofcom will then usually allow a period of ten weeks for interested persons, companies or organisations to read the document and send in their responses. After this ten week period, Ofcom will normally publish all of the responses on their website (excluding any which are marked by the respondent as confidential).
In June 2004, Ofcom, having received complaints from 24 viewers, censured Fox News commentator John Gibson for stating that the BBC had "a frothing-at-the-mouth anti-Americanism that was obsessive, irrational and dishonest". Ofcom held that these statements were untrue opinions based on false evidence that necessitated that Fox offer the BBC rebuttal time
Perhaps one of the most controversial decisions made by Ofcom regarding a complaint was that regarding Jerry Springer: The Opera. Having received a large number of complaints from various viewers, Ofcom decided there had been no breach of the broadcasting code, citing the broadcaster's right of freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
One recent decision which attracted much media attention was Ofcom's decision to restrict junk food advertising aimed at children.
In January 2007 Ofcom received over 44,500 complaints regarding the fifth series of Celebrity Big Brother and racial issues concerning Shilpa Shetty and Jade Goody. This was Ofcom's highest ever complaints response, and higher than that of any other media regulator.
Sitefinder is a database and web-front end set up and maintained by Ofcom as a result of recommendations of the Stewart Report to the Government in 2000. . .It is a voluntary scheme under which mobile network operators send information on the location and operating characteristics of individual mobile phone base stations (or masts)nationally.
In September 2007 an Information Tribunal ruled that the public should have access to the information contained within the database through Freedom of Information Act 2000 requests . .. However as Ofcom has no power to compel mobile phone operators to use the database, UK mobile phone operators consequently ceased sending updates to the database. In response Ofcom appealed the Freedom of Information ruling, along with one UK mobile operator - T-Mobile . . which has led to accusations of the organisations complicity with the mobile telecommunications industry in keeping information about mast locations secret . Ofcom's reasons for the appeal have ranged from preventing terrorist attacks on the sites of phone masts to protecting the intellectual property of the mobile telecommunications industry.
As of April 2008, the High Court found in favour of the Information Commissioners Office over Ofcom's objections. It is publicly unclear at this time if Ofcom intends to appeal this ruling . .