And you thought the BBC was bad…

Earlier on this evening I was watching Channel Five’s early evening news. They were doing an item on the changes that have been made to the UK’s directory enquiry service. Time after time they said things like “…things got worse after deregulation” and “Has deregulation been a disaster?” etc.

Only one problem.

It wasn’t deregulated.

Precisely the opposite in fact.

What happened was that BT (the UK’s largest phone operator) was forced by the regulator to make its database of phone numbers available to its competitors. Forced ie regulated.

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3 Responses to And you thought the BBC was bad…

  1. john b says:

    That surprises me. I assumed the reason the non-BT providers were rubbish was because they were using rubbish databases, not because they were too incompetent to successfully look things up in in the same database as BT…


  2. Elizabeth says:

    I actually thought it was rather unfair, forcing BT to give over its monopoly. Imagine, for example, writing a piece of computer code over many years, perfecting the system you use to utilise the code, the the Government steps in and says they’d like to distribute that code, thank you very much, just in the interests of competition you understand. You have no recourse, legal or otherwise, you have to give your invention away. After all, that’s what Directory Enquiries (under 192) was, really, an invention.


  3. john b says:

    Imagine if you spent ten years and billions of pounds developing a drug, and then only another ten years after it hit the market, you lost the rights to produce it exclusively. Instead, you’d have to compete with cut-price Indian and East European firms; your profit margin would be almost wiped out.

    Wait, that’s what happens.

    No innovation is good enough to deserve a perpetual monopoly. BT has made plenty of cash out of DQ; if it were a drug or an invention, it would now be about time for the public to benefit from competition.