Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Cry "havoc!" and let slip the dogs of competition

The government continues to talk obvious nonsense about its decision to deny a TV licence to HKTV.  According to TVB news a few days ago, Exco Convenor Lam Woon-kwong "said a consultant's report showed that approving all three applications could have forced other stations to shut down, resulting in havoc in the television market".

Deconstructed into plain English, what this means is that if we allow a potentially more popular TV station to open up, it may attract so much advertising that it drives a less popular station out of business.  Imagine this absurd logic applied to, say, restaurants: "if we allow a new restaurant to open up and serve better food, people may stop eating at an existing restaurant which serves less tasty food".  That's not havoc; it's how markets are supposed to work.

Then there's Chief Executive CY Leung's convoluted statement yesterday, which I won't try to deconstruct because it makes no sense at all.  What he seems to be trying to say is "We've already told you the answer, so I'm surprised you don't get it.  Now stop asking the question"  This could represent a whole new tactic in keeping the public uninformed.

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