NEWS: COI poised to shake up media buying arrangements

Ministers are set to approve a shake-up of the Government’s media buying to end the system under which it is split between four different agencies.

Ministers are set to approve a shake-up of the Government’s media buying

to end the system under which it is split between four different


Roger Freeman, the Cabinet minister responsible for the Central Office

of Information, is expected to give COI bosses the go-ahead to make

sweeping changes to the way its pounds 63 million-a-year advertising

spend is bought.

COI chiefs decided to review its five separate media accounts in the

light of growing cross-media ownership (Campaign, 5 April). At present,

television buying is handled by the Media Centre, radio by Leo Burnett,

which also monitors national press by individual agencies, regional

press by Zenith Media and posters by Concord.

Changes have been recommended by the COI and Paul Brown, an independent

media consultant appointed in July to examine the COI’s media systems.

However, ministerial sources said this week that the proposed shake-up

ould not necessarily mean ‘putting all the eggs in one basket’. Options

could include merging TV and radio into one agency and national and

regional press into another.

The changes would be phased in over the next few years to allow existing

contracts to be honoured.

After winning Freeman’s approval, the COI will consult its clients in

Whitehall departments before going ahead. However, departments are

expected to welcome the move as a way of getting better value from the

COI, to which they pay 1.75 per cent commission on government campaigns.

Ministers hope the proposals will also enable the COI to reduce its

overheads. The organisation is under pressure to double from 50 to 100

the number of jobs it sheds each year. ‘We can kill two birds with one

stone,’ one ministerial source said.

In an interview with Campaign, Tony Douglas, the COI’s new chief

executive, confirmed that a decision was imminent following the media

buying review.

Newsmaker, p16


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