Advertisers are preparing to join forces with ITV to secure a level
regulatory playing field for the channel and ensure that its fiercest
competitor, the BBC, sticks to its programming remit.
The Incorporated Society of British Advertisers is supporting ITV’s
drive for a more equitable system of TV licence taxation and has
undertaken to lobby alongside the channel to reduce the tax burden on
the channel 3 licensees.
Of the pounds 420 million UK broadcasters pay to the Treasury, ITV’s
contributions account for around pounds 400 million. ’This is not fair,
and everyone agrees it isn’t,’ the ITV chief executive, Richard Eyre,
ISBA and ITV have reached a broad agreement on the issue, though it is
understood guarantees are being sought to ensure that any money clawed
back will be ploughed into programming rather than siphoned off into the
pockets of shareholders.
Bob Wootton, the director of media services at ISBA, acknowledged the
association’s backing for ITV on the matter, but said there were still
issues to be discussed. ’ITV is certainly right to anticipate our
support on the issue of taxation,’ he stated.
Agencies are also adding their support to ITV’s lobbying. Paul
Longhurst, the media director of Ammirati Puris Lintas, said the new
regime at ITV was full of promise and ’the industry should support all
moves to reduce ITV’s tax burden as long as the money is reinvested in
Eyre is keen to ensure a level regulatory playing field, too, and has
been meeting with MPs to garner support. ’We’re regulated in a way
that’s tougher than the BBC.
Satellite channels, for example, have an 8pm water-shed, while we have a
9pm watershed, which confers on them a degree of scheduling flexibility
we clearly don’t have.’
Wootton agreed: ’ITV is the most heavily regulated of all the
Another plank of ITV’s lobbying process involves working with other
media owners to ensure the BBC sticks to its remit. BSkyB has now joined
with ITV, the Commercial Radio Companies Association, the National
Magazine Company and Emap to lobby against the over-commercialisation of
The aim, said Eyre, was to ensure the BBC was fulfilling its own remit
within sensible bounds. ’It’s clear that I think it is not.’