The Office of Fair Trading has cleared the advertising industry of
TV trading malpractice after failing to find any conclusive evidence of
An official OFT statement issued on Wednesday said the office had
’decided against a formal competition enquiry into ITV sales houses’
airtime sales practices’.
The OFT had been concerned that ITV sales houses were pursuing a sales
policy designed to use the combined, monopolistic power of the ITV
network to disadvantage other broadcast competitors (Campaign 20 March).
But according to the OFT, ’no conclusive evidence of this has been
It emerged this week that the OFT’s interest had been sparked by the
receipt of a formal complaint about the ’share of broadcast’ sales
policy, which had agencies up in arms when it was first mooted during
the 1998 trading season last autumn. Some agencies felt that ITV sales
houses might be colluding to take advantage of their combined majority
share of the airtime market.
The OFT consulted with a number of ad industry representatives, most
notably the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, and took their
views into account when formulating its decision.
The IPA had made clear its position on the issue, saying that agencies
had no problem with an individual sales house asking advertisers to give
them a guaranteed share of their total TV spend and saw no evidence of
an ITV-wide push for such deals.
Ray Kelly, the IPA Media Policy Group chairman, commented: ’It’s
absolutely right that the OFT should reach this conclusion. The issue
they were looking into had already been sorted out last autumn.’
However, the OFT has said it will continue to monitor the situation and
’may reconsider the position if evidence of any adverse effects on
competition comes to light’.