Sky plots to take control of Open sales operation

Sky appears to be discussing with Open the possibility of increasing its ownership of the service and seizing control of its sales operations.

Sky appears to be discussing with Open the possibility of

increasing its ownership of the service and seizing control of its sales

operations.



Industry observers said Sky wants to ’flex its muscles’ and bring Open’s

sales in-house to improve the delivery of interactive ads for retailers

on the site.



Once the whole operation is under one roof, it will benefit Sky’s

offering to agencies.



To achieve this, it is has been suggested that Sky will buy the other

shareholders’ stakes in the service.



The company now holds a 25 per cent share in the TV service. Other Open

shareholders include BT, HSBC and Matsushita/Panasonic.



One broadcast director said Sky, along with clients and agencies, was

frustrated by the current service.



’It’s not possible to link the TV adI buy on Sky to Open. It’s

frustrating for the client, who is paying high rates for representation

on Open, and annoying for agencies that can’t deliver what was promised

nine months ago,’ said the director.



Agencies say Open and the other shareholders will comply with Sky’s

demands because if Sky threatens to pull out, it will leave the TV

service in a fragile position.



’Most of our clients are already in talks with Cable operators’ NTL and

Telewest, but what they are really interested in is Sky’s three million

homes.’



However, one source suggested the service could not be improved until it

had acquired a high-speed link allowing the service to carry more

ads.



At the moment, Open can only post up to 20 ads a day across all Sky

channels.



Another agency insider said: ’If I were a betting man, I’d predict Sky

will make a bid to own at least 50.1 per cent of Open before the end of

the summer.’