Saturday, March 10, 2007

Not Quite Free To Air

The Golden Age

Back in the Golden Age of Television, most of us naive couch potatoes thought ITV was free, paid for not by taxes but by ads for Smash and slim panatellas.

It later turned out we were wrong, inasmuch as the ITV companies got free use of the airwaves. And that was when use of the airwaves really was "a licence to print money". Sadly for the ITV companies, Mrs T's 1990 Broadcasting Act introduced competitive auctions, where- to some extent at least- the cosy "beauty contests" of previous years were replaced by the need to hand over wads of cash to the Treasury. The spectrum was no longer free.

Now- bashed by satellites, cable, and the internet- ITV is a shadow of its former self. But guess what- new boss Michael Grade wants a reversion to the cosy old days of free handouts.

The man to read on this, of course, is Keith McMahon over at Telebusillis: as he points out, Grade is fast becoming one of Britain's top comedians. (You should also look at Keith's posts on the premium rate scandal, and his Motley Fool post on ITV's recent figures).

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