U.S. Banks Are the Hero of British TV Show

The U.S. banking system could use some good publicity. And that's exactly what it will be getting from British television.

A group of British journalists spent early July in Pennsylvania producing a documentary on the competitiveness of banks in the two countries. The premise is that U.S. financial institutions are better for consumers than banks in Britain.

|At Least You Have a Choice'

In the United States "there are bank failures, there are a lot of problems... but at least you have a choice," said Ella Bahaire, a journalist from Fulcrum Productions Ltd., producer of the show. It will run as a segment of "Follow the Money," a series on the British economy that is scheduled to air this fall on BBC2, the British equivalent of the Public Broadcasting System.

The attention comes as Britian's big banks are mired in controversy over claims they are squeezing small companies with high interest rates.

Collusion Probe Under Way

In addition, the European Community is planning an investigation into whether member countries are colluding to keep lending rates high.

In the United States, "people really are more empowered - the average person and business-person," Ms. Bahaire said.

The show takes a look at consumers, entrepreneurs, and banks in Reading, Pa. - home of Meridian Bancorp. and a unit of CoreStates Financial Corp., among other institutions. It compares them with consumers and institutions in Lincoln, a British city of comparable size and makeup.

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