’Outrage as Meacher guarantees water to the bad payers’ ran a
typical headline on this week’s utilities saga (Daily Mail, 19/11/98).
The water companies’ argument that a ’green light’ was being given to
non-payers counted with the press more than protection of the
The water companies argued that the vulnerable were not targeted anyway,
while insisting that the sanction of disconnection worked. Their case
was consistent, although the fact that two companies do not practise
disconnection was also reported.
While some consumer groups welcomed the end of the sanction of
disconnection, there was a general feeling that linking charges to
council tax bands ,rather than outdated rates would make more sense.
Meanwhile, some water shares were reported to have suffered, and
protests that free meters would hurt profits did not help stop the
slide. In cases like this, where there are so many changes to digest,
the headlines become very powerful in sending signals of dissatisfaction
with the outcome.
Evaluation and analysis by CARMA International. Cuttings supplied by the
Broadcast Monitoring Company. ’What The Papers Say’ can be found at: