PERSPECTIVE: ONdigital’s ad slots intensify the media ownership debate

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.

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

ownership.



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

and Media.



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

another’s pages.



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

warmly embraced.



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.



claire.beale@haynet.com



Have your say at www.campaignlive.com on channel 4.



Become a member of Campaign from just £46 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk ,plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now

Partner content