PERSPECTIVE: Wanted: one British media buyer to form half of joint venture

Ask an American media buyer to name a major British media company, and they will be stumped. They might hazard a guess at The Times, uncertain as to Rupert Murdoch’s nationality - ’he’s not really American, is he?’ A continental buyer might not have much more luck. I remember a recent list of the top 50 global media companies. There was no British company in the list - or was United number 50?

Ask an American media buyer to name a major British media company,

and they will be stumped. They might hazard a guess at The Times,

uncertain as to Rupert Murdoch’s nationality - ’he’s not really

American, is he?’ A continental buyer might not have much more luck. I

remember a recent list of the top 50 global media companies. There was

no British company in the list - or was United number 50?



Does this matter? We all know the answer. Day-to-day, it probably

doesn’t.



The UK market is large enough - just - to turn a decent profit, as long

as things carry on as they are. But that’s just it, they haven’t, here

or abroad. That’s why Roger Haupt, the man behind BDM, was a relative

unknown just three months ago but is this week’s ’King of Madison Ave’

(Feature, p32); why NTL’s Barclay Knapp has risen from obscurity to be

the leading player in the UK cable industry this past year; and why

Carlton and United must take on the understandable suspicions of their

clients to forge a meaningful British force (Analysis, p4; Leader,

p27).



Does scale matter? Haupt and his media buying supremo, Jack Klues, the

chairman of Starcom, will tell you no - as long as you are a contender,

which, of course, actually means yes. You have to be top five or

whatever number it is that constitutes the Premier League. But there

isn’t a Premier League in the world that contains 50 members.



The logic behind the media-owner mergers is the same as that behind the

agency deals: scale brings with it cost savings on people and real

estate and extra income to fund investment, and opportunities for

vertical and horizontal integration in order to further complete that

virtuous circle. I only wish it didn’t bring with it jargon hell.



Of course, United and Carlton will - predictably and correctly - claim a

merger will allow them to fund better programmes which they can better

exploit with the help of all the synergy jargon in the preceding

paragraph. They must also fund investment in digital media. Equally

predictably, and no less correctly, the regulators and media buyers will

point out that the proposed merger will bring us yet another step closer

to the dreaded single ITV sales point.



No-one’s entirely right or wrong, but the debate is parochial. We all

know deep down that the existing regulatory framework cannot last. It

cannot keep up with the pace of change being forced by the twin

catalysts of new technologies and the globalisation of business. The

alternative to a Carlton/United merger is an overseas predator pouncing

(someone may still).



We may not like the consequences but must accept the inescapable

conclusion: British companies cannot compete in the world’s Premier

League without consolidation. It may be unpalatable, but United and

Carlton have little choice.





stefano.hatfield@haynet.com



Have your say at www.campaignlive.com on channel 4.



Topics

Become a member of Campaign from just £46 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now

Partner content

Share

1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).