Media Relations: What the papers say - 118 probe reveals user discontent

The National Audit Office investigation into the liberalisation of the directory enquiries market offered little cheer for Oftel or the service providers.

The watchdog argued that while deregulation had produced more choice, it was at the cost of 'an increase in average prices and uncertainty over improved quality', according to auditor general Sir John Bourn (Daily Mirror, 18 March).

'Numbers don't add up as 118 costs more and is used less,' noted The Scotsman, a view supported by the Daily Mail - 'Callers hanging up on 118' - and The Times: 'Why Britain is hanging up on directory enquiries' (all 18 March).

The public have switched to alternative sources such as the internet because of confusion over costs, difficulty recalling 118 numbers and the inaccuracy of some information provided.

Earlier polls showed that most people were content with the original 192 service.

Edward Leigh, Commons Public Accounts Committee chairman, noted: 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it' (Channel4.com, 18 March).

Analysis conducted by Echo Research from data supplied to PRWeek from NewsNow. www.echoresearch.com www.newsnow.co.uk.

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