The accelerating erosion of UK television ad revenues and market share by digital and multichannel services has prompted an unexpected alliance of rival broadcasters - ITV, NewsCorp's BSkyB and state-owned commercial Channel 4.

Following negotiations between ITV ceo Charles Allen, Andy Duncan and James Murdoch, respectively his opposite numbers at C4 and Sky, the three companies are set to agree a joint marketing venture along lines similar to the Radio Advertising Bureau.

It is the first occasion on which British TV companies have gone public about plans to launch a joint marketing venture, a furrow ploughed several years ago by the radio industry and, last year, by the Newspaper Marketing Agency.

As yet unnamed, the new body will actively promote the TV medium to advertisers and agencies in the hope of countering the increasingly robust marketing of rival media.

The move follows last week's Ofcom/PriceWaterhouseCoopers report on the exponential growth of multichannel television [WAMN 14-Dec-04].

  • Meantime, the digital threat is underscored by the latest report from BARB (Broadcasters' Audience Research Board).

    According to the latest BARB data, viewing levels for BBC1, BBC2 and ITV1 have fallen to a historic low, with multichannel television collectively snatching a 26% share of viewing - larger than any of the established broadcast analogue channels .

    BBC1 could witness its audience share slip below 25% for the first time, if the trend of the last few weeks continues through December, while BBC2 - by remit a minority interest channel - is in danger of falling below the 10% mark.

    BARB reports that BBC2's share is also under threat from the world's favourite dysfunctional family, The Simpsons. Their move earlier this year from BBC2 to Channel 4 is accompanied by a 9% slump in viewing numbers between 1 January and 9 December.

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