ITV’s ad rules stay… for now

ITV1 is to remain bound by restrictions on how it can sell advertising airtime, the UK Competition Commission has ruled – but it added that the mechanism should be dropped at some point and that the entire UK TV ad sales market needs a review.

The commission stood by its provisional decision in September to retain the contracts rights renewal system, which controls ITV1’s advertising rates to stop the broadcaster abusing its dominant position in the market. ITV has consistently argued that the system, introduced as a condition of the merger of Carlton and Granada in 2003, is a “straitjacket” preventing the company’s recovery. The commission said today that ITV had “overstated the cost and distortions” imposed by CRR.

“ITV1 remains a ‘must have’ for certain advertisers and certain types of campaign,” said Diana Guy, chairman of the CRR review group at the Competition Commission. “Despite all the changes in this market, no other channel or medium can come close to matching the size of audience that ITV regularly provides. So the essential reason for the CRR undertakings remains: to protect advertisers and other commercial broadcasters.”

Adam Crozier, the chief executive of ITV, said that the ruling was “out of touch and damaging for the interests of creative Britain”.

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