Channel 4 kicks off 2019 without Publicis ad money

Ad row follows similar dispute last year that led to Dentsu Aegis Network media clients being off air for nine days.

Samsung: Publicis Media buys its advertising media
Samsung: Publicis Media buys its advertising media

Channel 4 has started the year without ads from brands such as Samsung and Asda after it failed to reach a new TV trading deal with Publicis Media.

Publicis Media agencies Starcom, Blue 449 and Spark Foundry failed to reach an agreement with Channel 4, putting its estimated £100m-£150m media budget for the broadcaster and its partners UKTV and BT Sport at risk.

Procter & Gamble has its own deal with Channel 4 and so its brands will run on the broadcaster's portfolio – which include 26 linear channels and three on-demand platforms – as normal.

Broadly, Channel 4 has asked to link the price that Publicis Media pays for ad space to its overall spend with the broadcaster’s sales house. Publicis Media, meanwhile, wants to link the cost of ad minutes to audience share.

Dentsu Aegis Network – which buys media for brands including Kellogg, Mastercard and TSB – and Channel 4 fell out last year in a similar dispute. The group’s clients were pulled off Channel 4, UKTV and BT Sport for nine days in September while the issue was resolved. 

Channel 4 executives are understood to be concerned about Publicis Media’s declining support of TV as a medium. As 2018 drew to a close, Jonathan Allan, Channel 4’s chief commercial officer, took the bold step of writing to Publicis Media’s clients directly to explain the broadcaster’s position. 

If the two parties resolve their differences, any ad revenue shortfall this quarter could be made up later in the year.

Six years ago, Channel 4 started the year without Group M clients after the broadcaster failed to agree a deal with the UK's biggest media buyer. 

Spokesmen for Publicis Media and Channel 4 declined to comment.

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