Broadcasters offer free campaign delays in case of Covid roadmap U-turns

ITV and Sky want to ensure retailers can plan TV bookings for April, even if the lockdown easing fails to go to plan.

TV: broadcasters shortened late-booking deadlines last year
TV: broadcasters shortened late-booking deadlines last year

ITV and Sky have responded to advertisers’ calls for greater flexibility in booking TV ads this year by guaranteeing free deferments for campaigns that have to be shelved at the last minute, if the UK lockdown does not ease as planned. 

In an email to advertisers on Friday afternoon, ITV’s managing director, commercial, Kelly Williams, said brands would have “support if deferments are necessary due to restrictions out of your control”. 

It follows last Monday’s announcement from prime minister Boris Johnson that the UK would ease lockdown restrictions in a phased approach this spring, with non-essential retailers provisionally allowed to re-open on 12 April. However, Johnson warned these re-opening milestones are subject to change if Covid-19 case numbers do not sufficiently improve this spring.

Williams explained that travel and leisure brands had begun discussions on Tuesday morning about advertising on TV with the prospect of “an exciting summer ahead”. 

Sky Media is offering a similar no-charge deferment policy to that of ITV, Campaign understands. Channel 4 said it was unable to comment.

ITV and Channel 4 cut their late booking fees last year in a bid to support advertisers and drive revenue amid the pandemic and fast-changing environment. Channel 4 later made its four-week advanced booking deadlines permanent.

At Campaign’s Breakfast Briefing in January the broadcasters were praised by marketers for being flexible during the height of the pandemic. Dan Rubel, brand and marketing director of Dixons Carphone, warned traditional media owners there would be a cost to reverting to a less flexible approach.