Media: Double Standards - 'The trading bear-pit has not yet lost its allure'

Digital TV sales chiefs spill the beans on the trading season, the benefits of multichannel and their favourite TV programmes.

JOHN DE NAPOLI - MANAGING DIRECTOR, DIGITAL MEDIA SALES

- Do you enjoy the trading season?

Yes, it's a fun time - creating a new sales pitch and making it stand out from the rest, is a real challenge . But when you have something good to say, it makes it easier.

- Do group buying points work?

They can - but the biggest worry for the industry is the pressure on agencies. The workload for them has increased massively and they are being pushed into a corner - there is only so much value in the market.

- Should Contract Rights Renewal be abolished?

No. In fact, as an industry, we should be looking at controls within larger sales organisations - eg. Sky within the multichannel market. Similar rules should apply to them as apply to ITV in the total broadcast market.

- How far has multichannel TV got to go before it becomes as popular as analogue terrestrial TV channels?

As a whole, it's already more popular - with viewing share, especially of younger audiences, beating some terrestrials. The problem with terrestrials is the wastage - multichannel offers minimal wastage. If you want to target 16- to 34-year-olds, Channel U, Kiss, The Hits etc delivers that.

- What was the most exciting development in the TV industry last year?

The fact that the industry is finally recognising that broadband is no longer a future platform, but is here and now. Internet protocol television, high-definition television ... it's all here and ready to go. Watch this space.

- What was your company's biggest success story of 2005?

Making Digital Media Sales a recognised and respected name in the industry, as well as taking ABC1, Disney's first UK commercial channel, to market, and completing three full years of trading in this very competitive market.

- How closely do you work with programming teams at the stations you represent?

Very closely - we are talking with current channels on a weekly basis, as well as advising new channels on their schedule make-up.

- What in TV is interesting clients the most at the moment?

Mobile and content. Advertiser-funded programming has been around for years, but it's only now,with personal video recorders affecting commercial impacts, that advertisers are taking notice.

- How did you come to work in the television industry?

Tom Toumazis (at the time a sales assistant at Scottish TV) sold me the dream 18 years ago ... I'm still living the nightmare. No, seriously, Tom got me an interview at STV and it was hard work from there.

- What's the best thing about your job?

Having been told multichannel TV would never work and an independent sales house would never survive, I walk into a 31-strong company that represents more than 45 sales channels and is increasing its revenue. I think, this team has made it happen, with the odds stacked against us.

- What is your favourite TV programme?

The West Wing ... but looking forward to Commander In Chief (on ABC1 as well) ... thank God for five movies!

- How do you unwind after work?

I run my own company - there is no "after work". There's Monday-to-Friday work, then there's my kids. Saturday and Sunday are dedicated to them - ballet, tap, swimming, horse-riding and whatever makes them laugh.

JAMES WILDMAN, EXECUTIVE SALES DIRECTOR, IDS

- Do you enjoy the trading season?

The bear-pit has not yet lost its allure. I love the intensity of the dealing season and it's always a pleasure to spend time with our illustrious agency customers.

- Do group buying points work?

Yes, in a lowest-common-denominator sense. No, in terms of offering each advertiser total flexibility.

- Should Contract Rights Renewal be abolished?

No. Some think that Tesco is too big in its market, but ITV is 33 per cent bigger in ours. Contract Rights Renewal must remain in place for as long as ITV retains market power and, as Channel 4 pushes towards the monopoly threshold of 25 per cent of market revenue, the argument that CRR should be applied to it too gains momentum.

- How far has multichannel TV got to go before it becomes as popular as analogue terrestrial TV channels?

It's already far more popular in that those that have it, love it! Fifty-three per cent of commercial viewing in all multichannel homes is of digital channels; and 64 per cent of commercial viewing in pay-TV homes is of the "celestial" channels.

- What was the most exciting development in the TV industry last year?

The inception of Thinkbox - no-one believed it would be possible to get all TV sales heads pulling together.

- What was your company's biggest success story of 2005?

Living TV as Broadcast Channel of the Year, ids holding Campaign and Media Week Sales Team of the Year Awards, market-eclipsing revenue growth, 34 "non-spot" advertising relationships across Flextech and UKTV, and our best ever "upfront" negotiations for 2006.

- How closely do you work with programming teams at the stations you represent?

Hand in glove. Ids is a full-service sales team with our own production unit delivering integrated marketing solutions across all our channels. Ids' channel teams underpin our strong, channel-led sell.

- What in TV is interesting clients the most at the moment?

Return on investment and "the new medium of television", and how our dynamic medium can be more effectively utilised. Also, the increasing divide in value of consumer terms between pay- and free TV.

- How did you come to work in the television industry?

Love of telly and the TVS graduate trainee scheme.

- What's the best thing about your job?

Constant change, fabulous people, challenging environment, ambitious business, supportive shareholders, and (still) much fun!

- What is your favourite TV programme?

Boston Legal (Living TV), The Catherine Tate Show (UKTV Gold), The Thick Of It (BBC2 and UKTV soon).

- How do you unwind after work?

Red wine, hot curry, great TV, and the loving company of my beautiful family.