The near-exponential rate of consolidation within the UK media sales sector has triggered alarm among advertisers and agencies, who are now calling on the government to take action.

Responding to government consultation on the upcoming Communications Bill [WAMN: 28-Nov-01], the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising urges that there should be no fewer than four separate sales points in any single media sector - or seven across UK media as a whole.

It proposes:

All Media
That any media company with more than 25% of sales revenues within a single medium, or 15% of total media sales revenues, be required to sell the excess through an independent sales house.

A minimum of two London ITV sales companies until such time as ITV’s nationwide share of TV advertising revenue falls to 25%.

Regional Newspapers
A minimum of two regional newspapers in key regions or cities of the UK.

A minimum of three commercial radio sales companies by area.

A minimum of two poster contractors in key regions or cities.

Explains Jim Marshall, chairman of the IPA media policy group: “The industry has recognised that, while advertising is critically important to the funding of the commercial media, it is unrealistic to expect ad revenues to drive the government's policy of protecting diversity, programme content, and plurality of opinion.

“Rather than seeking to have the advertising tail wagging the public policy dog, we have decided to press for guarantees of competition in that area of the market which directly affects us in advertising sales."

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