ITV PRESENTATION: ISBA supports drive for fairer system of TV licence taxation

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.

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,

said.



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

programming’.



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

channels.’



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 BBC.



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.’



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