View from City Road: Pearson's weak point

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The Independent Online
Hard to argue with Pearson's decision to refashion itself as a coherent media group rather than a poorly focused conglomerate. Hard, too, to fault the swiftness with which it has shed assets such as Camco and spread into synergistic areas such as computerised entertainment.

But while the multi-media strategy is now largely in place, that only serves to draw attention to the group's weak point - television. Pearson needs to add delivery systems - satellite, cable or terrestrial broadcasters - to programme makers like Thames. But it is frustrated at every turn, not only by the prices being demanded by the likes of TVB's shareholder Robert Kuok, but by Britain's cross-media ownership rules, which limit it to small stakes such as its holding in the ITV broadcaster Yorkshire-Tyne Tees or its BBC tie.

The essence of Pearson's reorientation is the idea that it will deliver its 'content' in any form the consumer wants. Unless the Government, which is dragging its heels, can be persuaded to liberalise the rules, the Grand Design will remain incomplete.

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