There is something comforting about restoring the old order. After
a moment of hope, England lost the cricket and after a peaceful summer
playing golf, ITV’s back in advertisers’ bad books.
As you can see from this week’s Media Forum, advertisers aren’t best
pleased about ONdigital spending buckets on Granada and Carlton, which
just happen to be joint owners of the digital TV company. ONdigital also
seems to have taken some of the plummest ad spots on the stations.
Is ONdigital paying the proper price for such airtime? Probably. In
fact, the more of a premium it pays, the more it helps drive up station
average price and hence the costs for everyone else. Should ONdigital be
allowed to advertise on ITV? Absolutely. If ITV wasn’t such an effective
advertising medium, then advertisers wouldn’t give a hoot about
ONdigital soaking up its airtime, though why ONdigital isn’t advertising
so heavily on the ITV stations not owned by Carlton and Granada is a
conundrum that plays into ISBA’s hands.
But the real issue isn’t so much about ITV, it’s about cross-media
As media owners struggle to establish new media brands or drive
multimedia portfolios, it’s inevitable they will use one of their media
to advertise another.
Take Channel 5’s proclamation last week that it is prepared to take
stakes in new media companies in return for free advertising airtime.
Such a strategy will take careful handling if the channel is to avoid
the sort of accusations that have dogged ITV. Then there’s United News
Does The Express advertise more heavily or at a preferential rate on
those ITV stations owned by United? And what about Flextech, Sky and
every other media owner that has more than one medium to its name? We’re
all familiar with publishing houses advertising one of their titles in
Could this be used to harden press ad rates?
This issue is not confined to ITV, it’s just that the stakes (and rates)
are higher on ITV and suspicion of its sales practices is greater.
What’s more, we all know that this wouldn’t be the first time ITV had
tried a cunning manoeuvre to make more money. The problem is, I suspect,
the ONdigital issue has more to do with advertisers’ perennial concern
with the cost of ITV airtime.
Advertisers are preparing to re-ignite the drive for more advertising
minutage on ITV and any ammunition to support this push is sure to be
Meanwhile, other less high-profile media owners are quietly left to
enjoy the rewards of cross-promotion. For ISBA’s arguments to have real
credence, the ONdigital issue must be positioned less as a battle
against ITV and more as a general check on the potential abuses of
cross-media ownership, of which I guarantee there are more to come.
Have your say at www.campaignlive.com on channel 4.