Viacom MD backs ITV with call to end CRR

Viacom Brand Solutions boss Nick Bampton has called for Ofcom to re-instate its axed review of television trading, and has backed ITV's demand for an end to contract rights renewal (CRR), claiming it is causing severe damage to the TV advertising market.

Bampton, managing director of the sales house which represents channels including Nickelodeon, MTV and Paramount, met Ofcom bosses last week, urging them to put the review back on the agenda, less than a year after it was scrapped due to a claimed lack of interest from advertisers and broadcasters.

VBS is the first rival to publicly join ITV in calling for an end to CRR, although Bampton stressed that he had no sympathy at all with the broadcaster's reasons for wanting to be rid of the trading mechanism.

"CRR has achieved the primary purpose of what it set out to do and that is to control ITV," he said. " ITV has nothing to complain about as it was their remedy. However, CRR in itself has become extremely damaging to TV."

Bampton claims the system has created what he describes as "another monolith", in the form of Channel 4, which this trading season is again expected to press agencies for upwards of £50m of the potential £100m plus revenue likely to come out of ITV1.

"CRR has contributed to an environment where the only metric that counts is price," added Bampton. "We've expressed the opinion that we would welcome a review of the TV marketplace as you can't review CRR in isolation."

VBS claims it has carried out research among the top 20 media agencies which shows that in an ideal world, 73% of planners and buyers would prefer to plan and buy on a client by client basis, rather than the current system of agency deals.

"To VBS, this suggests we're not working in an ideal world. The trading model is so ingrained that change is seen as too difficult. This is why we feel intervention by the regulator is needed to return the medium to growth," added Bampton.