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This is Business Live from BBC
News with Sally Bundock
and Susannah Streeter.
Re-opening the 'fast
lanes' of the internet.
American lawmakers prepare to rip-up
Obama's net neutrality laws later -
giving broadband firms huge power
over online traffic.
Live from London, that's our
top story on Thursday
the 14th of December.
As pioneers of the internet warn
that losing net neutrality would be
nothing short of a catastrophe,
we discuss the impact
on innovation, and free speech.
Also in the programme....
Global interest rates in focus.
After the US Federal Reserve
raised rates on Wednesday,
and China's PBOC hiked today,
we find out what we can expect
from the Bank of England
and the European Central Bank.
And that really is concentrating
minds on the financial markets in
Europe. Opening down so far.
And today is the busiest day
of the year for the Royal Mail,
with ten million parcels
and millions of letters
out for delivery.
We're going live to a sorting office
to see how the company is coping.
Today we want to know: on the day
we expect a deal to be announced
between Disney and 21st Century Fox,
are you concerned about getting less
choice in movies?
Let us know.
Just use the hashtag BBCBizLive.
Hello and welcome to Business Live.
We start in the US -
where regulators could be
about to scrap rules guaranteeing
equal access to the internet -
a principle known
as 'net neutrality'.
It was enshrined in law under
President Obama in 2015 -
but under the Trump administration
it looks doomed following a huge
battle in the business world.
Think of your internet service
provider as a motorway.
Net neutrality means it's not
allowed to set up 'fast lanes' -
giving faster access to some sites
because they pay more.
Or deliberately slowing or blocking
other sites that don't.
US telecoms giants like Comcast,
Verizon and AT&T have
lobbied hard against it.
But content firms like Amazon
and Google say ditching the rules
will give too much power
to the Telecoms - and will make it
harder for new start-ups to compete.
In July they led more than 170
organisations in slowing
down their services to protest
the proposed change.
The debate is going
on all over the world.
The countries in blue already
have 'net neutrality' -
they make sure all traffic
is treated equally.
Those in red are considering it.
Those in yellow have no
rules at the moment.
Matthew Howett is a communications
at Assembly Research.
Good morning. It looks like these
rules may get ripped up today in the
United States. Talk us through the
winners and losers.
The winners, as
we heard in that piece, are the big
telcos. Arguably, the diggers
losers, are the communications
companies. I think we should think
about how the consumer bits into
this. The rules are there to protect
so that you and I can get the
content we want on our devices. The
lobbyists would argue that they will
be fine, they will be protected.
There are rules that can be used to
police this. Ultimately consumers
could lose out if they cannot get
access to the content they want.
showed you the map where different
areas of neutrality exist but does
it really exist? Other things these
companies can already do to try to
promote some services over others?
The way the works mean we do have to
prioritise some traffic. -- the
internet works. Providers like
Netflix are paying ISPs to get the
content is closer to us so we do not
sleep buffering when we use our
devices. These things are
commonplace. -- we do not see.
the US we have mentioned a strong
lobby group, the likes of Horizon,
AT and T and others. Is there a
similar group in Europe, who are
trying to pull away the net
We have seen less
of the debate in Europe and the UK.
We have more competition between the
different broadband providers but
that is less the case in the US.
There are fewer of them are more
concerned about what they might do.
In Europe there is a lot of
competition. If people do not like
something they can switch to another
It will come down to the
philosophical argument about whether
we should all have a right to access
the internet and good access to the
internet, no matter who we are, how
big or small we are.
It is a crucial
debate. We are talking about big
amounts of money. That could be used
to invest in rolling out the
infrastructure and improving
broadband speeds. There is a
relationship between both sides on
this debate. It is one which
probably will not go away quickly
even after this vote.
We will talk
to you on the subject and probably
other subjects. Thank you for coming
Let's take a look at some of
the other stories making the news.
The World Trade Organisation has
closed its biennial summit without
any agreements being reached.
There had been some hope of deals
on e-commerce, as well as farming
and fishing subsidies.
It raises questions
about the group's ability to govern
global trade disputes.
The head of the WTO said
the organisation now needed
to conduct some real soul-searching.
In the UK, an influential group
of MPs has urged Britain
and the European Union
to agree a status quo Brexit
The Treasury Select Committee wants
it agreed as soon as possible
to ease business concerns
over a no-deal Brexit.
The committee's report said it
strongly supported the Prime
Minister's push for a comprehensive
free-trade deal which
would keep borders as
frictionless as possible.
The carmaker Nissan says
it's recalling more
than 300,000 vehicles in Japan
because of a defective
coating which could,
in the worst case scenario,
lead to a fire.
Six models, including
minivans made for Suzuki
and Mitsubishi, are affected.
No vehicles sold outside
Japan are being recalled.
Do not forget our business live page
is constantly updating with the
news. BP and the fact that
Australian and additional parties
have blocked the oil giant's vision
is to buy network of local networks
stations from the supermarket chain
in Australia, or worse. It was worth
$1.3 billion. So, interestingly, how
BP has been stymied by Australian
competition authorities. One of
those stories is also on there. Take
a look when you want. Also lots
about the Federal reserve decision.
In the wake of the US
Federal Reserve's decision
to hike interest rates
on Wednesday, China's Central Bank
surprised the markets
by making a rate rise of their own.
Monica Miller is in Singapore.
What did they do? China has made a
startling declaration of moderate
losses after raising short-term and
mid term interest rates for debate
came after hours the decision the
Fed made by raising rates by a
quarter of a percent. The world's
second-biggest economy has started
to cool as the Government cut down
on high risk lending. They do not
want to slow down economic growth.
Hong Kong was another one. Their
monetary authority was out today and
they have upped their base rate 25
basis points. Hong Kong tracks the
US rate because their currencies are
pinned to one another. Both
currencies are in lockstep with
other Asian currencies, which have
already raised their rates. South
Korea raised its rate. It was the
first Asian country to do so since
2014 foot at many economists say
Malaysia could be no first one in
the U -- New Year followed by
Philippines and Taiwan. We may see
another interest rate rise in South
Korea in 2018.
Thank you for that
update. The financial market focus
is over central bank activity after
the much anticipated interest rate
hike. The dollar fell despite an
upbeat assessment of the US economy.
Despite another record close on Wall
Street, the stronger yen pushed down
stocks in Tokyo. Closing down by
.2%. Let's have a look at Europe as
well. The markets mainly open. Down
across-the-board ahead of the key
central bank decisions in Frankfurt.
The ACP and the Bank of England are
not expecting a big change but we
may get an indication of future
Yogita was in Washington for that
Fed decision and has the details
about what's ahead on Wall Street
Stock market investors would like to
have a big deal to analyse and trade
on foot of it looks like they will
get one just in time for Christmas.
It is widely expected that Disney
and 21st-century fox will announce a
major transaction in which Disney
will buy most of Fox's media assets.
Many US TV channels, its movie
studio, and a stake in sky TV, which
owns Sky News Wall Street expects
the deal could be worth something
like $60 billion and that it could
be announced as early as Thursday.
Investors will also get a bunch of
economic data to pore over, most
notably retail sales figures from N.
They are expected to show a rise of
.3% as the US consumer remains happy
to spend. And there is corporate
earnings are far from software giant
Joining us is Sue Noffke
is UK equities fund
manager from Schroders.
Nice to see you. Talking about what
is going on this week.
on. It is kind of wrapping up what
has been really a Goldilocks Year 4
economic growth, financial markets.
Would you describe that for the UK?
The UK in a global context is quite
small. It is not as bad as many
I just wanted to clarify
what you thought Goldilocks was.
am talking about the global economy,
particularly the US, which sets the
scene. Gross has been good. What
drives central bank action is
expected inflation. -- growth. That
has been modest. We had core
inflation numbers which were a bit
weaker than people had gone for. The
headline came in line with people's
expectations. That keeps the Fed
Talking about that
scenario, not necessarily that if
you are betting on a stronger
dollar, which really has not
materialised. Again, weakening after
that central bank decision at the
Fed. Why is that? Janet had quite an
upbeat assessment of the US economy
for the going forward, she is
questioning the impact of Trump's
And just how sustainable that
boosters. That is true. She has put
through some stronger growth
forecast but not sustained it in our
two years. It comes back to the
inflation forecast. There is no
inflation pressure building up in
the system despite unemployment
being at low levels. It allows
central banks to keep monetary
policy quite loose and comes back to
the Goldilocks scenario. I think
they will follow through next year
with three but the markets are only
pricing in two. And that is where
inflation is so key.
Thank you for
now. She will be back. Some
interesting stories to get our teeth
into later. That is on the cards in
a few minutes.
Still to come...
On the busiest day of the year
for the Royal Mail, we'll be live
in a sorting office to see just how
the company is dealing
with the millions of parcels
and Christmas cards that need to be
processed at this time of year.
You're with Business
Live from BBC News.
It is busy for the likes of Royal
Mail but also extremely busy for
online grocery chains.
Online grocery chain Ocado said
a driver shortage impacted sales
growth in its fourth quarter.
The retailer, which recently
secured its biggest overseas deal
with a partnership with French
supermarket Groupe Casino,
said its retail sales
rose 11.6% last quarter,
having increased 13.1%
in the previous quarter.
Russ Mould, investment director
at AJ Bell, is in the newsroom
to talk us through the numbers.
What is going on? They are not
growing the share of the business
currently but they are hoping to
build the business overall by the
tie-up with casino. That is about
the tech behind the delivery system,
If you look at the stock
market valuation it is over £2
million, which seems pretty exotic
for a company that is making less
than 10 million in profit this year.
It is not just down to the grocery
delivery service. The real secret is
the intellectual property, the Ocado
Smart platform. It has licensed it
to two or three different grocers.
The company is working on more
deals, a licensing fee, and in the
case of capital casino will be a fee
for using the warehouse. That is the
real secret to the stop. -- restock.
They have been effectively
subsidising my dinner, which is
fantastic. In terms of the long
potential of the company it is all
down to the software.
In terms of the
numbers today, there was a slight
slowdown in growth. The driver
problem seems to be sorted. There is
a fourth warehouse in Eris next
year. That will take many thousands
of orders a week.
of orders a week.
It is incredibly
of orders a week.
It is incredibly competitive,
of orders a week.
It is incredibly competitive, we
of orders a week.
It is incredibly competitive, we are
of orders a week.
It is incredibly competitive, we are
waiting to see what Amazon will do,
another challenge for them. Can they
get more big licensing deals?
you. Talking us through Ocado's
results. Get the delivery orders in!
Especially at this time of year. See
you in a minute.
You're watching Business Live.
American lawmakers are preparing
to rip-up Obama's net
neutrality laws later,
reopening the fast
lanes of the internet and giving
broadband firms huge
power over online traffic.
When we get news, we will update you
on the BBC.
Quick look at how
markets are faring.
In Europe, we have been trading for
nearly 50 minutes. Nothing too
dramatic. Trading down a little.
European Central Bank meeting today,
lots of traders watching out for the
There are just 11 days
until Christmas, which means
millions of parcels and letters
are out for delivery.
Don't say that! There are tens of
millions of cards and presents being
sent. In many companies, it means
extra staff. In the UK, the Royal
Mail has 20,000 extra pairs of hands
to call upon and today they have got
Ben Thomson with them as well! Are
you help or hindrance in Manchester?
How dare you! I am a help, of
course. They have been putting me to
work this morning. This is going to
Northern Ireland, let me put that
there. They have taken on thousands
of extra staff to make sure they get
through all of this stuff, parcels
going all around the world, and they
are expecting to deal with more of
them, today is the busiest day for
the Royal Mail. They normally deal
with 2 million parcels and letters.
They will deal with 3.5 million over
the next 24 hours, a huge logistical
challenge. One of the bosses here.
Good morning. How do you deal with
this? A big upswing in business,
extra staff, big challenge?
planning effort, we start planning
immediately after Christmas. We
recruit in the UK, 20,000 extra
people this Christmas. An extra 6000
vehicles on the road delivering
parcels and also extra trucks and
flights, huge effort to gear up for
Talked me through what
goes on. It is all sorting, I
thought there may be more
You still need people?
We still need a lot of people. We
automate letter traffic and
increasingly parcels. Today you're
seeing people sorting parcels posted
yesterday and they are ongoing to
worldwide and UK destinations. They
will be on the road at 2pm.
been facing challenges in
restructuring the business because
like anywhere in the world, we are
sending fewer letters, maybe more
parcels, online shopping really big
thing, how have you managed that
The business has changed
over the years. That is are still
hugely important to us, 60% of UK
revenue, but parcels are continuing
to grow. 6% increase in parcels in
the last annual report. Parcels are
our business now increasingly.
you. Let me introduce you to a
marketing expert, really nice to see
you. Retailers, really busy time of
year, all of this sort of stuff
going through the system, how do
they plan for things like this?
busiest time of year. Increasingly,
we want to be able to buy products
for all sorts of retailers. The
planning takes forever, as soon as
Christmas has finished, the plan for
the year after, it is about making
supply chains are as efficient as
The business has changed,
online shopping, more of us ordering
online, so it is a lot more
complicated, not just thin letters,
big boxes and parcels.
are delicate, big boxes, you do not
want it dropped on your doorstep.
The retailers work hard to make sure
they pick the right carriers to
deliver things. The last five yards
per retailers is critical because
you can buy a product but you want
it to be delivered in the right time
at the right place. They are
investing more and more into those
last five yards with businesses like
Royal Mail and other delivery
businesses across Europe and
We talked about it being
very seasonable, a lot of extra
staff, big upswing in demand, how
easy is it for them to gear up for
things like this?
They plan for it
but increasingly, because online
shopping has grown at an exponential
rate, there is pressure in the
workforce to find people who can
drive vans and work in the warehouse
and there is a premium for that.
Shoppers do not want to have to pay
for things to be delivered. There
are real challenges from retailers
about how they pass on the
Thank you. There you have
it. A busy time for everyone here. A
lot of seasonal workers have been
taken on to cope with the extra
demand. It gives you a sense of just
how busy it is. Everyone trying to
get stuff posted before Christmas. 2
million parcels and letters is what
they normally deal with, they are
dealing with about 3-3.5 over the
next 24 hours. Help or hindrance? I
am hoping I have been a help. It is
possible I might have been a bit of
They have been very
understanding. They all look like
they could do with a cup of tea and
you make a good cup of tea, go on.
About 20, 30 people behind you.
could make myself useful, you are
They will love you forever.
Busiest time, next 24 hours, for me,
next ten days, I them nowhere close
to writing my Christmas cards!
at work, I block it out of my mind
here is that we asked you at the
beginning whether you are concerned
about reduction of choice on the
telly in the light of the news we
are expecting today, the fact Disney
is to do a deal with 21st Century
Fox. If the $60 billion deal goes
ahead, many argue there would be
less choice on the television
screens in terms of what we are
watching and where we are watching
Which service would you have us
your priority customer one says, I
would have to choose Amazon prime,
it is the added bonuses such as
two-day shipping, Kindle books.
is interesting. That is how
companies are trying to go, they
want everything about you, the whole
package. We promised Sue would
return. Your thoughts? A huge deal
and many are saying it will have a
seismic impact. It has to get
through regulatory hurdles. Your
thoughts in terms of the impact on
people like us.
consolidated quite a bit so possibly
that is where consumers have less
choice today than they did ten years
ago, for example. On other content,
there are so many proliferations of
ways you can consume content when I
was growing up, it was three
channels, four was a great
excitement. Now you have internet
delivery, different platforms,
YouTube, I think consumers have lots
In Australia, the country is gripped
by poker machine addiction, a
warning that has come out from
Australia's institute, a think tank.
They are saying there are 80% of the
world's poker machines in dedicated
gambling venues such as casinos but
a lot of those in non-gambling
venues are in Australia's pubs and
clubs, real issue.
In many other
countries regulations about how you
would use these machines, how much
access individuals would have, in
Australia, they are very commonly
located for people to have the
ability to play while they are
having a drink at the pub. It has
caused problems. What we have got in
Australia is someone from the Labour
Party in Tasmania saying we want
regulation here and there is only
one other state in Australia where
they are regulating this. The
argument from the incumbent liberals
as it could cost jobs and ready for
a lot of pubs and hotels -- and
Apparently our wine glasses
are getting bigger. They are. It is
blamed for a rise in drinking. Do
you have large wine glasses at your
house? No-brainer, isn't it? You are
not meant to put very much in the
glass, that is the problem. The red
wine is supposed to breathe, white
wine is not supposed to get warm, it
is how much you put in the glass,
but it is like plates.
the plate, the more food you put on
Too much wine being pulled this
Christmas, I expect, that is the
issue. That is if it is delivered on
time! Smaller wine glasses, that is
on my Christmas present list. Have a