The CIA/Laser dispute has split the industry over the issue of whether
the TV airtime trading system requires a complete overhaul.
Talks have already begun to find a trading mechanism that will not be
easily subject to abuse (Campaign, last week).
One agency chief said the dispute set a precedent. ‘Does this mean I can
now invoice Laser for any money it owes my clients at the end of the
year?’. Another insisted: ‘If Mick Desmond [the chief executive of
Laser] fudges this, he’s signalling that a deal is not a deal.’
John Storey, the joint managing director of Media Audits, said: ‘If the
case goes to court, it will be good for the industry as it will force
transparency in trading and remove destabilising factors. The industry
would benefit from a more open dealing structure and in our opinion this
dispute has created a catalyst to achieve this.’
However, Melvin Jay, the marketing director of CIA’s client, Sandoz
Nutrition (formerly Wander Foods), said: ‘The situation reflects very
badly on the sales houses. When I received the letter [see story,
right], I felt angry and antagonised. Our loyalty is with our business
partner, the agency.’
Some buyers have blamed advertisers and auditors for the situation. One
said: ‘Too often business is awarded on the basis of discounts.’
But Christine Walker, the chief executive of Zenith Media, said: ‘Why
should the market change because one buyer and seller have fallen out?
We trade well, thank you very much.’