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Ofcom: 'Well done Ofcom!'

Quango fails economics A-level

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Ofcom paid tribute to its own munificence today by releasing its annual report on how its stewardship of the UK communications sector has made everyone love their ISP, telco and media.

We're all consuming digital junk more than ever before, with an average of 7 hours and 9 minutes per day spent watching TV, txting m8s, on the phone, speaking branes into the internet, or listening to the daily broadgrammes on the wireless, according to Ofcom's research. It's up six minutes from 2002. According to Reg research the other five or so waking hours of the average Brit are spent eating Findus Crispy Pancakes™, shouting at family members, cockfighting, and fixing communications devices.

For an organisation that employs hundreds of highly-paid economists, Ofcom's press release demonstrates a worryingly poor grasp of services markets. It trumpets that "despite growth in use and uptake" of communications services, prices are coming down. It would be a bit odd if operators were increasing prices as more services are sold.

Total household communications spend was an average of £93.63 a month last year, £1.53 less than 2006. Ofcom makes a disingenuous and self-congratulatory comparison with the current high general retail prices, which of course is caused by finite stocks and production of food and energy commodities. Plugging more users into the network doesn't affect data supply and demand in quite the same way as the growth of China raises oil prices.

Strategy partner Peter Phillips provided the canned auto-back-pat: "Our devotion to watching, listening and staying in touch wherever and whenever we want shows no sign of diminishing and, with healthy competition, overall prices offer increasing value for money. That is what consumers demand and what Ofcom helps deliver."

Average monthly household spend on broadband in 2007 was £9.45, down from £9.87 in 2006. Bundling by providers and recent improvements in the switching procedure are the most obvious causes of the drop. growth in broadband uptake continues, and 58 per cent of UK households are now connected, compared to 52 per cent a year earlier.

The predicted slide in traditional TV watching in response to the popularity of iPlayer has so far failed to materialise. The research found 17 per cent of households watched TV online, compared to 9 per cent a year earlier. Broadcast TV held its own though - it has only slipped slightly to 218 minutes on average per day last year compared to 224 minutes back in 2002. ®

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