Thirteen independent media agencies with combined billings of $4.2 billion (€3.29bn; £2.28bn) today, Wednesday, launch a new international media buying and planning network branded Columbus Media International.

The triumvirate leading the alliance are America's largest independent media shop Horizon Media, the UK's BLM and Cossette Media of Canada. Fixed in their crosswires are mid-size multinational advertisers with budgets in the region of €100 million ($127.5m; £69.2m).

Columbus says its main advantage over holding-company owned global media networks is that it is not linked via a parent group to creative agencies and other marketing entities.

This, claims the newcomer, enables it to offer more objective guidance to clients as to where and how they should spend their advertising budgets.

The alliance will advise clients on spending "without reference to the politics of a global holding group", says Horizon ceo Bill Koenigsberg .

Currently, around fifty per cent of global advertising expenditure is channelled through the 'big five' agency holding groups, prompting Koenigsberg to observe: "There is room in the market for new approaches because of the dissatisfaction of clients."

With hub offices in New York and London, Columbus opens its doors with two founder-clients, the broadcasters ESPN Classics and E! Entertainment.

The network offers immediate coverage of Europe, North America, the Russian Federation and parts of Asia, and is seeking partners in the growth markets of China, India and Latin America.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff