Rivals Accuse Britain's ITV of 'Padding' Ad Revenues

20 May 2005

Nobody loves you when you're big, bossy and control over 50% of the nation's TV advertising revenues.

So shed a tear for Britain's largest commercial terrestrial broadcaster ITV, constantly under fire from one or another faction, be it advertisers, agencies, rivals or regulators.

On Tuesday the shots were fired by media agencies, angered by reports that the broadcaster is trying to dump the Contract Rights Renewal mechanism, forced on it by competition regulators after its birth by merger in January 2004 [WAMN: 19-May-05].

Wednesday saw a second cannonade, this time from broadcasting rivals who accuse the media monolith of bolstering its ad rates by including revenues from 'house' ads such as the Granada Learning's Letts Educational brand.

Competitors aver that ITV uses these and similar revenues to boost ad income totals, thereby artificially inflating airtime prices. It's a ploy with pedigree, formerly used by ITV's forefathers Carlton Communications and Granada for subsidiaries such as online properties Ask Jeeves and Jamba.

In a rare leap to defend their favourite whipping boy, UK agencies rubbished the accusations, pointing out that other TV stations also use sibling brands, such as BSkyB's Sky credit card, to inflate their prices. Other white knights insist that the sums involved are too small to make any significant difference.

Nonetheless, the unnamed agency informants said they would closely monitor the situation.

Data sourced from BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff