Ofcom appoints new chief as it prepares for widened role

Ofcom has named senior civil servant Dame Melanie Dawes as its new chief executive, as it prepares for a wider role as an internet watchdog.

Her predecessor Sharon White left at the end of November.

Dame Melanie has been Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government since 2015 and will take up her new role in early March.

Her appointment comes as Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan announced the widened remit for Ofcom.

Dame Melanie said: “Ofcom plays a crucial role in ensuring that people and businesses across the UK get the best from their communications services.

“It’s a great privilege to be appointed as chief executive at a time of significant change in the sectors Ofcom regulates.”

Dame Melanie began her career as an economist and has held senior roles across the Civil Service, working in partnership across the public and private sectors.

She is civil service champion for diversity and inclusion.

It was also announced that Ofcom chairman Lord Burns is stepping down to enable a new chair – who can oversee the implementation of changes in full to Ofcom’s new role – to be in place by the end of this year.

He said: “The Government’s statement that it is minded to appoint Ofcom as the regulator for online harms is a vote of confidence in Ofcom’s expertise. I know Melanie will do a fantastic job of leading the organisation and maintaining its strengths.

“I look forward to working with her over the months ahead as we prepare for this forthcoming legislation, as well as the ongoing tasks of achieving better broadband and mobile coverage and supporting UK broadcasting.”

Baroness Morgan said: “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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