Pembroke:NBC's shopping burden

Embarrassment over at NBC Super Channel, which is launching a swanky business TV programme next Monday. European Money Wheel is aimed at top-flight European business types who want to keep up with the markets and the latest news.

Not between 9 and 10am they won't. Then, the Euro-suits will find beguiling salespeople encouraging them to buy plastic jewellery and lycra cycling shorts by credit card. The reason is that for an hour, the NBC's schedule switches to Super Shop, the grimhome-shopping programme that is a legacy of a previous channel.

"Er, we don't want to talk about it really," a spokesman says. "It's not something we're immensely proud of. It's a contractual obligation."

BT, labelled rotter of the week by increasing line rental charges, was trying to get back in the public's good books yesterday. As the Boat Show gets under way, BT was at Earls Court brandishing cheques.

Peter Winmill, head of BT's Community Programme, was on hand to give £75,000 to a crew of disabled sailors who plan to sail backwards around the world next year. Muscling in on BT's sponsorship acts was Church's shoes, purveyors of fine brogues to many aCity gent. Church's presumably hopes to shift a few more of its recently launched boat shoes as a result.

One person who will not be at the boat show - not yet anyway - is Anthony Browne, corporate finance partner at beancounters Price Waterhouse. Mr Brown sailed across the Atlantic in two weeks during December, which is no mean feat. Sadly, the intrepid sailor had precious few days to show off his George Hamilton-style tan before being despatched on a business trip to China.

Mr Browne, clearly not one to shy away from the sun, spent a few days stretched out on a beach in Antigua at the end of his crossing before returning home. "I didn't get much chance to speak to him, but he did look rather well," a colleague said.

An iron law of economics is that economists need never fear unemployment. Ofgas, the gas regulator, seems to be doing its best to employ as many as possible. Business at Ofgas is growing faster than Cedric Brown's salary at the moment and Clare Spottiswoode's organisation needs more space. The present 50 staff will soon be joined by 20 more as the regulator beefs up to cope with the bureaucratic nightmare that is the modern gas industry. Most of the extra staff are economists.

The taxman is used to witless behaviour by businessmen under investigation. According to the accountants Pannell Kerr Forster, 1994 was a vintage year.

During one meeting, an inspector became suspicious when a businessman claimed that he wrote up his records once a week. And where were the figures recorded in between? "In my head".

Nigel Cope

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