Advertisers slam ITV as complaints rise sharply

ITV has been hit by claims that it is 'deliberately adopting a provocative and retaliatory approach to clients' just weeks before the start of the review of the Contracts Rights Renewal mechanism.

The latest report from the office of the CRR Adjudicator, the body that considers formal disputes in ITV airtime trading, has revealed that the number of complaints against the broadcaster has increased significantly.

Seventeen enquiries were brought to the adjudicator by advertisers and their media agencies in the year to April compared with seven in the previous 12 months, according to last week's report.

In its submission, ISBA argued against CRR being axed. It noted that ITV's share of ad revenue remains well over 40% and its digital channels lift this to 45%. It said: 'We strongly believe that this continuing dominant position necessitates continued regulatory intervention.'

The IPA, meanwhile, claimed ITV had 'continued to play a very "robust" game ... and is "prepared to test restrictions to the limit".' The industry body also claimed that, in specific instances, the broadcaster may 'deliberately adopt provocative and retaliatory action with regards to some clients, with time "disappearing" from the schedules and a sudden lack of availability in key programmes.' The industry body also noted concerns that with increased familiarity (to the adjudicator) ITV is inclined to 'play the system'.

The Adjudicator has said he will take these views into account during the review, which is being conducted in partnership with Ofcom. He also urged advertisers and agencies to sign contracts much earlier than in previous years to rectify problems with informal contracts.

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