- Advertisers continued to pile pressure on ITV to put its support behind the campaign for more advertising minutage on terrestrial channels as ITV came under attack for falling audiences and high inflation.
While Richard Eyre, the chief executive of ITV, again called on advertisers to give the new ITV Network Centre team time to improve audiences, advertisers wasted no time in renewing their calls for more minutage on ITV to combat inflation.
However, Bernard Balderston, the media manager of Procter & Gamble, said that advertisers' concerns with ITV have not been met for some time, and advertisers can no longer ignore the short term issue of crippling inflation.
"There is significant inflation over the first seven months of 1998 and ITV and Channel 4 just don't seem to appreciate this," Balderston said.
Eyre argued that increasing advertising airtime to nine minutes per hour would increase clutter and reduce audience levels as programmes and promotions were cut to accommodate the extra minutage.
David Cuff, the broadcast director of Initiative Media, said that the clutter argument -- which holds that more ads in a break would reduce the effectiveness of each ad -- was redundant because in peak time, when advertisers are most keen to advertise, there is already nine minutes of advertising. An irritated Eyre brushed aside the suggestion.
Christine Walker, a managing partner at Walker Media, said that much TV inflation is client driven, rather than the result of falling audiences, and advised advertisers, where possible, "to be more nimble in the short-term and consider playing the market a bit. We all have a responsibility for TV inflation," she added.
But it was clear that advertisers are not going to let the issue lie. Minutage dominated the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers' conference earlier this month, and many advertisers feel that if ITV were to add its voice to the lobby for increased minutage, the Independent Television Commission would have to agree to allow it.
Procter & Gamble is understood to be preparing a new assault on the Government and the advertising industry and ISBA has made it clear that it remains at the top of its agenda for 1998.