TV Eye increases independence from TV broadcasters

In a bid to distance itself from the TV companies, the broadcasters' collective TV Eye has set itself up as a separate company with a chief executive from outside the ranks of the TV sales directors.

Susan de Cesare, who formerly worked at TV Eye's predecessor, ITV Networks Limited, has taken over the reins of the company with Andy Barnes, the sales director of Channel 4, becoming the non-executive chairman of the TV Eye board.

And in a change of ownership, TV Eye is now funded by contributions from all of the TV companies rather than from just ITV, which formerly offered the accreditation service to other broadcasters and charged them accordingly.

As part of its new remit, TV Eye is preparing to move out of its offices at the ITV Network Centre to a more politically neutral building.

The decision to separate TV Eye from the broadcasters and create a common shareholding comes after the IPA referral of the body to the Office of Fair Trading (Campaign, 11 April).

The OFT has subsequently announced that it is examining evidence to see whether TV Eye's trading practices were in breach of the Competition Act.

TV Eye, which is now jointly owned by Carlton, Granada, GMTV, Channel 4, five and ids, monitors the credit worthiness of media agencies and makes trading recommendations to the broadcasters on this basis.

The issue of agency debt-to-equity levels has become increasingly contentious after TV Eye's recommendation that some agencies increase their levels of bank guarantees in order to cover the cost of unused airtime in the event they go bust.

No-one at TV Eye was available to comment on the story as Campaign went to press.