Media Perspective: Diluting CRR may not keep Hugo Chavez from ITV's top table

The extremists always have the best outfits. The latest pictures of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il show that he continues to resemble a Minipops version of Roy Orbison in his head-to-toe black and huge shades.

In the same newspaper was an image of the Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez in "trademark khaki jumpsuit and red revolutionary T-shirt". Rather more eye-catching than the uniform of most politicians. But it was Chavez's decision to broadcast a four-day long special of his weekly TV show, Alo Presidente, that really caught my interest.

Celebrating the programme's tenth anniversary, Chavez opened with a song performed with children and Cantona-esque ruminations on sardines that started a marathon session, making last week's wall-to-wall Britain's Got Talent seem restrained.

That said, ITV deserves plaudits for attracting 19.2 million viewers to the final of Britain's Got Talent and for providing a strong Saturday schedule: the talent contest coming after ITV had built male impacts through its live FA Cup final coverage.

The day before all this, ITV had welcomed the Office of Fair Trading's recommendations on changes to Contract Rights Renewal, the mechanism put in place to protect advertisers following the ITV merger and that prevents it from abusing its 45 per cent share of the marketplace.

After months of deliberation, the OFT has essentially recommended that CRR remain in place, but in a watered-down form, which could be welcome news for ITV. Under the outgoing boss Michael Grade, ITV has been very publicly pushing for a complete removal of CRR but seems happy that the OFT has at least formed the opinion that a "more proportionate remedy which creates less costs and distortions than CRR" be put in place.

The CRR baton now passes to the Competition Commission with advertisers, represented by ISBA, apparently reassured that the chances of a complete abolition of CRR are now remote. That said, the OFT said it found some of the evidence submitted by advertisers against the scrapping of CRR had "weaknesses" and seemed to offer clear guidance to the Commission that any new "son of CRR" should cover ITV1 impacts delivered via cable and satellite, aided by the proposed launch of an anticipated +1 channel.

This should help an ITV sales operation that has already become adept at trading around CRR. But while this could be a partial victory for the broadcaster, it's probably not one that is enough to guarantee its future, given the view of some analysts that ITV is going to need a cash injection of £500 million to turn around its fortunes.

Maybe it should get Chavez on the shortlist for its next chief executive. After all, he has broadcast experience.

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