Oftel seeks ways to curb BT price cuts
Thursday 09 February 1995
Don Cruickshank, director-general of Oftel, also said he wanted more powers to obtain information on BT's individual businesses, in order to ensure that cross-subsidy cannot be hidden. He said that if necessary, this could mean forcing BT to split into separate businesses rather than just publishing separate accounts.
Speaking at a London conference, Mr Cruickshank said: "I would not be performing my role effectively if I allowed a situation to develop where anti-competitive behaviour by BT is either not discoverable or that I do not have adequate means to stop it promptly."
The wider powers proposed by Mr Cruickshank would mean a change to BT's licence, to which the company must agree or face a reference to the Monopolies Commission.
Oftel said that the changes, part of a comprehensive consultation on the future of the industry, would not take effect until after July 1997, the expiry date for BT's current price cap.
Mr Cruickshank also promised more "scrutiny and challenge" in assessing pricing and related behaviour, adding: "We can use more effectively the powers under the Competition Act and Fair Trading Act. Indeed, I expect that you will see the first use of these powers by the director general of telecommunications in the very near future."
Mr Cruickshank's statement shocked BT, which has already agreed that it will publish separate accounts to increase transparency. Accounting separation is regarded by Oftel as a key part of ensuring that other companies, including Mercury and cable television firms, can interconnect on fair terms to BT's wires to deliver service to customers.
BT said: "The full range of unfettered discretionary powers now being sought by Oftel ... go substantially further than is required to achieve accounting separation.
"They are much more extensive than anything to which BT has previously consented, in agreeing amendments to its licence. Wide discretionary powers, by their nature, introduce uncertainty and unpredictablity into the regulatory regime. This is not in the interest of customers, shareholders or competitors."
BT also came under fire from the regulator for failing to take part openly in its consultation on accounting separation, preferring to discuss the issues with Oftel in private. Mr Cruickshank said: "The result has been a lack of transparency, a lack of understanding by the rest of the industry of what BT's position is, and frankly the suspicion of Oftel/BT in a closed room."
Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'
- 1 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 2 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 NHS staff banned from drinking tea or coffee on the job because it looks like they're not working hard enough
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
Isis releases first video showing the stoning of woman accused of committing adultery as her father shouts 'don't call me Dad'
Diwali: What is the festival of lights – and how is it celebrated around the world?
Nathan Cirillo: Final pictures emerge of soldier moments before he was shot dead by Ottowa gunman
Ottawa shootings: Terror strikes Canadian capital as attacks leave one soldier and one suspect dead
iJobs Money & Business
£350 - £360 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfor...
120-150k: Accountancy Action: We are looking for an experienced CFO from a min...
£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...