NEWS: ITV sales houses anger buyers with network-sell deal

ITV sales houses were accused this week of selling airtime for children’s ITV on a national basis, in what many agencies fear could be the beginnings of a joint network sell-off of all off-peak airtime.

ITV sales houses were accused this week of selling airtime for

children’s ITV on a national basis, in what many agencies fear could be

the beginnings of a joint network sell-off of all off-peak airtime.



Individual ITV sales houses have been touting CITV, which runs from 4pm

to 5pm on weekdays, to agencies representing toy retailers and

manufacturers. The move is seen as a bid to fill the void left by

Procter and Gamble’s huge reductions in daytime media spend (Campaign,

23 February).



ITV is barred from signing network-wide airtime deals under current

legislation, which stipulates that the three ITV sales houses are each

allowed to control up to 25 per cent of total TV revenue.



Although no deals of this nature have been offered yet, agencies say

sales pitches made in recent weeks have focused on the use of the

network, and involved the proposal of a putative network price.



Martin Bowley, the managing director of Carlton UK Sales, did not deny

selling the benefits of the ITV network to agencies, but stated that no

rules had been broken. ‘We are pointing out the benefits of using CITV

nationally, but one must not confuse that with a network deal.’ The

Independent Television Commission, which was alerted to the situation by

‘a competitor’, has accepted ITV’s assurances.



Buyers say an average network price is being touted that is 25 per cent

lower than GMTV, which relies on the toy market for 28 per cent of its

revenue. Clive Crouch, the sales director of GMTV, has called on the ITC

to rethink.



ITV is thought to be keen to further the cause of a network sell for all

off-peak airtime. One buyer commented: ‘Next, there will be arguments

for post-peak [after 10.30pm] and coffee time [9.30am to 1pm] to be sold

nationally. This could be the thin end of the wedge.’



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