NEWS: CIA places disputed cash in escrow fund

CIA has agreed to pay a sum of money equivalent to that which the ITV sales house, Laser Sales, claims it is owed for 1995 TV airtime into an escrow account, while the two parties work out what the final bill will be and conditions under which it will be paid.

CIA has agreed to pay a sum of money equivalent to that which the ITV

sales house, Laser Sales, claims it is owed for 1995 TV airtime into an

escrow account, while the two parties work out what the final bill will

be and conditions under which it will be paid.



But CIA is now understood to be considering suing Laser for libel and

damages for any business lost as a result of the dispute.



CIA is also asking the Independent Television Commission to help solve

the dispute.



Until agreement is reached, the money, minus 15 per cent agency

commission, will be held in the escrow account.



An official statement from CIA confirmed: ‘Following further discussions

with Laser Sales we have proposed various means of resolving our dispute

over prior years’ trading, including that the matter be put before an

independent body, such as the ITC, for arbitration.



‘We believe such arbitration represents a fair means of enabling a

resolution to be reached impartially. We are prepared to be bound by

whatever decision is reached and have offered to deposit pounds 832,453

of CIA Group funds into an escrow account to be used in part or whole

against the arbitrated settlement.’



The dispute between CIA, the UK’s sixth largest media buyer, and Laser,

came to a head this week when Laser’s broadcaster clients instructed

solicitors to issue proceedings against CIA. The dispute does not affect

bookings with the CIA sister companies, IDK Media and CDP Media.



Laser claims that CIA owes pounds 785,081 to Yorkshire Tyne Tees, pounds

115,201 to LWT, pounds 74,722 to Granada and pounds 4,353 to Border. The

money owed to YTT is particularly significant because Ward Thomas, the

chairman of YTT, recently accused Laser of failing to deliver to YTT a

promised percentage of ITV revenue. Laser is now said to be under

pressure to pull in more money on the station.



A statement from Laser said: ‘On the basis that this dispute remains

unresolved, on 1 January 1997, the broadcasters will withdraw credit

listing and agency commission payments from CIA.’



Laser sent letters to CIA clients informing them of the dispute, and

also claiming that the agency had requested significant hikes in its

clients’ airtime costs to help pay back the money.



However, Mike Tunnicliffe, CIA’s managing director, claimed that the

Laser letter contained ‘a significant number of inaccuracies’ and that

‘Laser has been asking us since July to re-price our clients’ airtime by

amounts we consider unacceptable’.



A Laser spokesman said: ‘We completely stand by the terms of the

letter.’



The spokesman added that the CIA offer was to be put before the

broadcasters.



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