Magazine article Management Today

The Price Is Right - or Is It?

Magazine article Management Today

The Price Is Right - or Is It?

Article excerpt

THE PRICE IS RIGHT-OR IS IT? If it ain't broke, don't fix it, is not an adage that should be universally heeded. But in the case of Britain's system of broadcasting, an in-built aversion to needless tinkering would have served the public far better than the Government's ill-judged decision to auction the independent broadcasting licenses in 1992 to the highest bidders. The supposed safeguards on quality -- the threshold any prospective bidder must cross -- seem palliatives against the presumptions in favour of cash pouring into the Treasury coffers. True, successful applicants are required to post a performance bond, to be forfeited if they fail to fulfil their pre-auction promises. But whether the new regulatory body, the Independent Television Commission, will be able effectively to enforce performance standards in the face of a far more competitive environment is doubtful.

Even if the Government's plans were not so confused and elaborate, what makes the whole exercise so puzzling is the general excellence produced by the current system. As the Financial Times' television critic Christopher Dunkley has pointed out, there is nothing particularly simple and rational about the current arrangements: Dunkley terms them 'a sequence of Byzantine British compromises'. …

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