Channel 4 and Channel 5 were this week considering whether to lobby
the Independent Television Commission to relax airtime sales
restrictions on national TV channels in the wake of the Government’s
recent decision to allow ITV sales houses to control more than 25 per
cent of TV revenue.
The existing ITC rules prevent national TV channels from being sold
alongside each other, but the decision to allow two ITV companies to
merge means there could now be a case for allowing sales consolidation
Channels 4 and 5 could now push for more sales freedom, although both
are waiting to see the outcome of the ITV ownership shake-up before
deciding on their response.
The commercial director of Channel 4, Andy Barnes, said: ’We are making
an assessment of how we think things will pan out and we will be taking
soundings before we make an announcement.’
Nick Milligan, the director of sales at Channel 5, added: ’Business
practice at Channel 5 is a private matter, but we will make our minds up
after the ITV line-up has been organised.’
Of the ITV sales houses, TSMS could be the most vulnerable whatever the
eventual outcome of the ITV merger talks. TSMS’s chief executive, Jerry
Hill, this week sent a letter to each member of staff offering them ten
weeks salary as a bonus if they stay until the end of the year.
He said: ’It is to get people to focus and ignore the distractions of
the present extraordinary situation.’
ITV convergence, p8.