The government has unveiled a £5 million publicity campaign intended to prevent panic about the effects of the millennium bug.
The cornerstone of the campaign is a booklet entitled The Millennium Bug - Facts Not Fiction, which will be distributed in national and regional Sunday newspapers and in the main TV listings magazines next weekend.
It will also be handed out at main post offices. The campaign will be supported by television and radio advertising fronted by BBC presenter Nick Ross.
The booklet was compiled by Action 2000, a company set up by the government to raise awareness of the millennium bug. Margaret Beckett, leader of the House of Commons said at the campaign's launch in central London that the booklet aims to separate the facts about the millennium bug from the fiction.
"It tells people about how key basic services - hospitals, airports, cashpoints, supermarkets and petrol stations - will be operating over the New year period," she said.
The booklet also contains information on how domestic appliances such as home computers, video recorders and fridges could be affected.
The campaign has been criticised by Taskforce 2000, another millennium bug watchdog, for ignoring many potential bug related problems and encouraging complacency.
"Worrying about video recorders and home PCs is not the sort of thing we should be looking at," responded Rob Wilson, assistant director of Taskforce 2000. "Nowhere in the booklet does it mention the emergency services, local authorities or large companies, which keep the economy going."
"If everyone is convinced that everything is alright then the problem won't get the leadership it needs. There is still much to do," he said.
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