The Great Debate UK
- Steven Barnett is professor of communications at the University of Westminster, and a writer and commentator on broadcasting issues. His first book, published in 1990, was on the relationship between television and sport. The opinions expressed are his own.-
Today is a historic day for British television: the first time in its brief six-year history that the supposedly uber powerful Ofcom has been prepared to flex its muscles to tackle the brute force of BSkyB’s overwhelming dominance in pay television.
It is an issue that has blighted the television industry for years, disadvantaged consumers, put companies out of business, and sent competitors, regulators and politicians running for cover.
Finally, after three years of exhaustive analysis, the regulator has had enough: BSkyB has been ordered to lower the prices at which it sells its premium rate channels to other platform operators such as Virgin and BT.
Merging T-Mobile UK with Orange will bring 3.5 billion pounds of value to shareholders, and "substantial benefits to UK customers." Goodness, why on earth didn't they get together years ago? A merger that simultaneously enriches shareholders and customers is rare indeed, and one to be treasured - if this really is one of those seldom-seen beasts.
While the 3.5 billion pound figure is credible, the second claim, from Timotheus Hottges, the finance director of Deutsche Telecom, T-Mobile's parent, is harder to believe. The immediate reaction from other shares in the sector rather gave the game away, with retailer Carphone Warehouse down on the prospect of fewer suppliers, and Vodafone up on the hope of less competition in Britain's mobile phone market.
- Rupert Darwall is a guest columnist. The views expressed are his own. A London-based strategist, he is author of Reluctant Managers, a study of Whitehall performance (KPMG, 2006) –
If April is the cruellest month, then July can be awful for people using Heathrow. Business travel is still humming and the holiday season is getting into full swing.