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Ofcom chief White to step down

Sharon White, CEO of UK media regulator Ofcom, whose responsibilities now include oversight of public broadcaster the BBC, is to step down.

Sharon White

White has been head of Ofcom since 2015 but is leaving at the end of the year to become chairman of retail group The John Lewis Partnership. A replacement is being sought.

White joined from Her Majesty’s Treasury to lead Ofcom, which took over responsibility for assessing the BBC from the BBC Trust in 2017.

During her tenure, White urged the BBC to take more creative risks and target young people, as set out in its annual report last year.

She also called on UK broadcasters to work together to launch a UK-focused streamer that can challenge international competitors such as Netflix. This is now in the works with Britbox, which has been launched by the BBC and commercial rival ITV.

Ofcom chairman Lord Burns said White would be “missed by the whole organisation” and said under her leadership the media regulator had “helped to deliver ultrafast broadband, widespread 4G mobile and now 5G, and became the first independent regulator of the BBC.”

He added: “She leaves Ofcom as a regulator with a relentless focus on the consumer interest; making sure people and businesses can get the best out of their communications services.”

White said: “It’s been a huge privilege to lead Ofcom at a time when reliable, affordable communications have become essential. I will leave behind an organisation that is dedicated in its mission to make communications work for everyone.”

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