The MT interview: Stephen Carter

Since taking on communications super-regulator Ofcom, he has quickly proved his skills as a pragmatic enabler - a watchdog who wants to deregulate.

by Andrew Davidson

Stephen Carter has an edge, they say. Sharp, decisive and intolerant of fools, he was the wonderboy of ad agency J Walter Thompson in the 1990s, before jumping ship in 2001 to join NTL, the collection of cable franchises with big ambitions and bigger debts.

That move became far tougher than anyone envisaged. Three years ago, he left with a large payoff and was plucked from the job-hunting queue to set up the Government's new media regulator, Ofcom, an amalgamation of five different authorities covering the broadcast arena. So far, it has been a success, winning plaudits for the way it has swiftly got down to business, though some are anxious at the power amassed and salaries paid. Carter himself - a brave choice, as NTL looked a disaster zone to outsiders - seems on the up again. Recent press coverage says he now has his sights set on a big job in a real business. He describes the speculation as 'unhelpful'.

But right now, on a clear afternoon in his steel-and-glass Thames-side office, he's in a pretty reasonable mood. 'Given we have messed you around, Andrew,' he says, settling at his desk, 'you take the time you want with this.'

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