ITV’s auditor, Rickards, is taking a more rigorous approach to
cross-checking media agencies’ TV deals this year in the light of last
year’s pounds 1.8 million airtime trading dispute between Laser Sales
and CIA Medianetwork.
Agency sources say this situation has led to requests by Rickards to
examine some agencies’ advertising expenditure on other media. The ITV
sales houses are also said to be keen to monitor each other, as the
increasing number of cross-media deals between individual sales houses
and their sister operations in other media blur the true amounts spent
on ITV advertising.
ITV sources said this had raised concerns that such deals could be used
artificially to reduce the amount of money an agency pays to an ITV
sales house, allowing the agency to appear to meet its commitments to
rival sales houses on their share of total ITV expenditure.
All three ITV sales houses, Carlton, Laser and TSMS, are said to be keen
to ensure that transparency is established now, as there will be greater
opportunities to muddy the picture further once the trend towards
trading airtime according to share of total broadcast spend kicks
One ITV sales chief admitted that it was imperative to seek out any
hidden agendas as early as possible. ’Now that share-of-broadcast deals
are more widespread, we need to make sure we’re monitoring spend on
other channels, not just ITV, and making sure that money is not being
hidden in sponsorship deals, for example.
’Our auditors will really have to get to grips with that this time next
year, and I think we’ll see more wrangling then. For the moment,
agencies seem to have taken the warning of the CIA debacle and we don’t
expect any major problems this year.’