Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: Only Power of Publicity Can Foil Christmas Broadcast Gift to US

Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: Only Power of Publicity Can Foil Christmas Broadcast Gift to US

Article excerpt

It's time to ring the date of Monday December 29 in your diary.

No, it's not a party or an invitation to a ski trip. This is much more serious. The neatness of the bureaucratic mind has chosen two days before 2004 as the appropriate 'commencement' date for the new broadcasting ownership rules.

Why - you may well ask - couldn't they bother waiting until Thursday January 1 to launch such momentous changes? Were the civil servants worried that Thursday was a bank holiday and Friday, complete with hangovers, was not a good day for launching a takeover of ITV, with the weekend coming up?

The requirements of Acts usually come into effect three months after Royal Assent. But that clearly doesn't work very well here because Royal Assent was given on July 17.

One factor was the need to have Ofcom fully in place. But even that date doesn't match exactly. So we are just going to have to accept that someone, somewhere simply thought that December 29 would be a very fine day to start the ownership rules.

But hold on a minute. Even a cursory glance will tell you that the person who chose December 29 was up to something potentially sinister. Everybody knows that the UK grinds to a halt between Christmas and New Year. And when Christmas and New Year fall in the middle of the week, that guarantees a ten-day closedown at the very least.

If everyone in the world did the same, all would be well. But the US is not like that. It doesn't really do holidays or go on ten-day benders to celebrate the passing of another year like normal folks. …

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