Alone among Britain's advertisers and agencies, Carat, the global media planning and buying arm of Aegis Group, has taken a positive stance over the £2.6 billion ($4.11bn; €4.09bn) merger planned by ITV network’s controlling duo Carlton Communications and Granada Media.
Breaking the serried ranks of hostility to the merger, a Carat spokesperson said the agency sees it as essential to the network’s survival: “We believe the benefits to viewers, advertisers, and agencies of a single, efficient, focused, and competitive ITV are long overdue.”
This is directly at odds with the stance taken by most marketers and their agencies through their respective trade bodies (the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising). According to the former, it will “strongly oppose any proposals which would reduce competition in the airtime sales market”.
Carat, however, is relaxed on this issue: “If the pricing becomes punitive there will be a market check,” opined the spokesperson, adding that the recent surge in growth of satellite broadcaster BSkyB and terrestrial channel Five means that ITV no longer enjoys the virtual monopoly it has had for the last fifty years.
Nonetheless, Carlton and Granada face an uphill task in convincing competition regulators that their marriage – which would command around 52% of all UK television advertising – would be in the interests either of the media industry or consumers.
Data sourced from: mad.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff