ITV chiefs warned over change to sales policy

Agencies and broadcasters have formally complained about ITV’s new airtime sales policy (Campaign, 7 November) which they say may be anti-competitive.

Agencies and broadcasters have formally complained about ITV’s new

airtime sales policy (Campaign, 7 November) which they say may be

anti-competitive.



Members of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising this week

agreed to take a stand against the policy which, buyers claim, involves

the three ITV sales houses pushing for airtime deals based on the

proportion of total TV spend agencies are willing to commit to the ITV

network.



The IPA’s Media Policy Group has decided that to stipulate such terms is

anti-competitive. While the IPA agrees that individual ITV sales houses

should be allowed to deal on the basis of their own particular share of

broadcast spend, it says they must not be allowed to stipulate an ITV

share, or a share for other nominated sales houses or stations.



At the same time, a number of rival broadcasters, thought to include

Channel 5 and Channel 4, have written to the Independent Television

Commission, advising it to monitor the situation, again fearing that any

share of broadcast policy could prove to be anti-competitive.



Historically, the three ITV sales houses - Carlton, Laser and TSMS -

have fought among themselves for a share of ITV spend, and have received

bonuses on this basis.



Now the new policy has been sanctioned by ITV chiefs as a way of trying

to ensure more money stays in ITV, even if it means some deals are not

concluded by the new year and ITV loses revenue in the first part of

1998.



Ray Kelly, chairman of the IPA’s Media Policy Group, said: ’We have no

evidence that this is an ITV-wide policy, but we felt it was necessary

to clarify our position over what we would be prepared to accept. We

hope our statement means this never becomes an issue, but we’re

monitoring the situation.’



Jerry Hill, the chief executive of TSMS, responded: ’We can’t dictate

terms like this. The irony is that a number of clients and agencies are

making share of broadcast offers to ITV.’



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