The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising and the Incorporated
Society of British Advertisers met with Carlton and United News & Media
this week to thrash out a number of proposals regarding the
broadcasters’ planned merger.
Advertiser support is crucial if the merger is to get a green light from
the regulators. Carlton/United is now expected to make a number of
commitments with regard to airtime sales practice in return for ISBA and
IPA endorsement of the merger.
Proposals under consideration are the sell-off of one of
Carlton/United’s two sales houses - Carlton Sales and TSMS, possibly
through a management buyout. There are also thought to be plans to
invite ISBA and the IPA to appoint a complaints officer to ensure fair
practice in the handling of airtime sales.
However, ISBA and the IPA have agreed a position on the merger and what
the two would find acceptable in terms of airtime sales. They are
looking for the broadcasters to agree to certain criteria if they want
the support of the advertising community for their merger. It is the
first real example of a united front from the advertiser and agency
trade bodies on a major media issue.
Although details of the IPA/ISBA position are being kept under wraps,
they centre on the protection of advertisers’ interests in the face of a
new ITV titan controlling 60 per cent of ITV advertising and 36 per cent
of total UK television advertising.
As the rules stand, no one company is allowed to control more than 25
per cent of total TV revenue, though the Office of Fair Trading began a
review of these rules in the summer. ISBA and the IPA are determined to
maintain the 25 per cent ceiling while ITV still controls the majority
of TV revenue.
The meeting, held on Monday, included Bob Wootton, the director of media
and advertising affairs at ISBA, and representatives from the IPA as
well as key advertisers. United and Carlton were represented by Malcolm
Wall, who will be chief operating officer of the merged company, and
Nigel Walmsley, who will be chairman.
The broadcasters were due to respond as Campaign went to press.