Business Diary: Flanders finally gets one up on Peston

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The Independent Online

One of the more entertaining business rumbles of this year has unfolded over at the BBC following the return to work after maternity leave of the corporation's economics editor, Stephanie Flanders. Her return put her head-to-head every day in a battle of the blogs with the Beeb's high-profile business editor, Robert Peston. And at first she proved far less popular. Still, their final pre-Christmas blogs show there has been a remarkable turnaround in the fortunes of the two. Peston's festive missive attracted 120-odd comments, while Flanders got more than 150. Game on for 2010, then.

Halfords customers defying the big chill

Halfords has come up with one of those claims that make right-minded people stop in their tracks. Reporting surging sales of sleeping bags, Halfords reckons "more Britons than ever before will be packing up their sleeping bags and tents and camping this Christmas". Yeah right, because there's nothing like a week of snow to give you a hankering for the outdoors. Maybe everyone is buying them for the airport waiting game.

BT and Sky are back in the combat zone

Oh dear. It seems that BT and Sky are at it again. After a year of trading insults via Ofcom, the two companies have become bitter enemies and now the satellite broadcaster has taken its foe to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over claims that the BT Vision service shows films first. That's only true when compared with Sky Movies, points out the company; not so with Sky Box Office. The ASA has handed victory to Sky by a technical knockout and has told BT to pull the ads.

Up to no good in other people's homes

Here's a new year's resolution for you. If you rent out your home, make sure that you go round and check it is being looked after every now and again. Bailiffs have reported a surge in criminal behaviour over the past year or so. On their debt-collecting travels, it seems that they have discovered residential properties being used for any number of nefarious purposes that their owners are blithely unaware of. Examples include everything from brothels to drugs houses.

Number of the day: £4.9bn

The amount paid off home loans by British borrowers in third quarter, according to the Bank of England.