ITV1 ad sales rules to be relaxed

The UK competition regulator is preparing to announce a relaxation of rules governing how ITV1 sells advertising, but is unlikely to scrap all the controls binding the channel, and could call for a complete review of Britain’s TV ad trading system.

The Competition Commission aims to announce the results of its review of the contract rights renewal within the next few days. CRR, introduced when Carlton and Granada merged in 2003, is a set of rules designed to protect advertisers against ITV1 abusing its dominant position in the TV ad market. Changes to it could affect a wide range of media developments, including the proposed merger of Channel 4 and BSkyB’s ad sales operations.

The Office of Fair Trading has recommended a relaxation to CRR. Some TV executives believe that removing or simplifying the rollover contract system, which is based around the old regional Carlton and Granada operations, could allow ITV to cut its sales force by up to 25 per cent, or 100 staff.

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