Former NTL chief Carter picks up £1.6m bonus

LONDON - Stephen Carter, the new head of communications watchdog Ofcom, has picked up a £1.6m bonus from the financially disastrous cable firm NTL, where he was formerly chief executive.

NTL, which recently emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after racking up debts of £12bn, saw subscriber numbers fall and thousands of jobs axed under Carter.

Carter, who joined NTL from J Walter Thompson, was confirmed as the chief executive of Ofcom, the government's new media and communications super-watchdog, at the end of last month. He takes up his post on March 1.

As chief executive of Ofcom he will be responsible for creating the new organisation, which will take the place of five regulators -- the Broadcasting Standards Commission; the Independent Television Commission; Oftel; the Radiocommunications Agency and the Radio Authority.

His £1.6m pay-off and his move to the top government-related job comes after the publication of a report into corporate governance, which looked at excessive golden handshake payments to directors, among other issues. Carter will earn £350,000 a year in his new job at Ofcom.

The report, which was compiled by former merchant banker Derek Higgs on behalf of trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt, proposes tougher regulation. Hewitt was one of the ministers involved in Carter's appointment.

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