Attempts by agencies and TV sales chiefs to play down the Office of
Fair Trading’s investigations into TV sales policies have met with
continued OFT enquiries, amid concern that the investigation is now
widening to include the entire TV trading system.
Agency insiders fear the probe could be a prelude to an investigation of
agency deals and station average price.
In its initial letter to the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising,
it emerged this week, the OFT asked a series of questions including:
’What would be the advantages and disadvantages of the ITV sales houses
moving to a share of total TV advertising method of calculating
discounts?’; ’Is ITV station average price an appropriate basis for
charging for ITV advertising?’; and ’Can you suggest any other method by
which the ITV companies could increase their share of TV advertising
Last week, after Campaign broke the news of the OFT’s investigation into
the ITV sales houses’ ’share of broadcast’ deals, the IPA’s Media Policy
Group chairman, Ray Kelly, issued a statement insisting that the IPA saw
no cause for concern with individual ITV sales houses asking advertisers
to guarantee a share of their total television spend because this didn’t
break the 25 per cent ceiling on control of total television
But the OFT wrote back to the IPA at the end of last week expressing
surprise at some of the IPA’s comments and asking for further
The letter even suggests that ’share of broadcast’ deals voluntarily
agreed between advertisers and individual sales houses could have an
anti-competitive effect on other stations.
Now the OFT is to meet a delegation from the IPA on 6 April to seek
clarifi-cation over a number of trading issues.
Bernard Balderston, the media manager of Procter & Gamble, acknowledged
that some advertisers were opposed to the station average price system,
but said: ’I don’t see where the OFT is coming from on this issue.’ He
added: ’I can understand the OFT looking at agency share deals. My guess
is that there are areas the OFT could investigate.’
- The Incorporated Society of British Advertisers is said to be planning
a closed seminar on station average price.