NEWS: TV sales houses prepare for revamp

The ITV companies are gearing up for an overhaul of the airtime sales market that could see another revamp of the TV sales house structure.

The ITV companies are gearing up for an overhaul of the airtime sales

market that could see another revamp of the TV sales house structure.



Channel 5 - which will begin broadcasting at the start of 1997 - will

redraw the lines governing the current ITV sales structure.



ITV sales houses are restricted to controlling 25 per cent of the total

TV market. But as new channels come on stream, particularly a third

terrestrial commercial TV channel, ITV’s share of total revenue is

gradually falling, enabling the ITV sales houses to increase the size of

the ITV market they represent.



There is also speculation that the Queen’s Speech this month could

change the ITV ownership rules. Currently, companies can own two ITV

licences, but there is increasing pressure for changes to allow one

company to own licences representing up to 25 per cent of total TV

revenue.



Carlton UK Sales, the sales house for Carlton and Central Television, is

understood to be keen to court HTV, the ITV company broadcasting to the

West and Wales.



Any change to the ITV ownership rules will make STV, HTV and Yorkshire

Tyne Tees potential targets for acquisition by Granada, Carlton and MAI.



HTV’s airtime sales are handled by the sales house, TSMS, but the

station’s share of the ITV ad cake has dipped below 1994 levels. If HTV

were to move into Carlton UK Sales, it would give Carlton a firm grip on

the middle of England and strengthen its position in the TV airtime

market. Carlton could also woo Westcountry, the West-of-England

broadcaster, which would be a neat fit alongside HTV.



Mick Desmond, the chief executive of Laser Sales, which handles Granada,

Yorkshire Tyne Tees and LWT, is also thought to be keen to bring STV

into its fold to dominate the North. Like HTV, STV’s share of revenue

this year has slumped.



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