LONDON: Advertising spend in the UK fell by 1% in the three months to August 2008, with TV rates dropping to their lowest level in fifteen years as major marketers like Procter & Gamble slashed their budgets, reports Billetts Media Monitoring.

BMM's research showed that P&G was responsible for the biggest single cut in overall marketing spend, reducing its outlay by some £16.1 million ($28m; €20m) between June and end-August.

Insurance group Arriva halved its spending – a fall of £10.3m – while the ailing Royal Bank of Scotland posted a decline of £5.9m, with the finance sector's adspend down 11% as a whole.

Telecoms companies Vodafone, France Telecom – owner of mobile network Orange – and BT similarly reduced marketing spend, with the utilities, automotive and government categories also down.

The pharmaceutical and entertainment sectors were responsible for the largest increases in outlay, according to Billetts, a division of media and marketing analytics firm Ebiquity

BMM also reports that TV adspend fell by 16.8% in September to a value of £286m, despite the fact audience numbers rose by 10%.

The medium's advertising revenues are forecast to fall by 6.8% in October, 9.1% in November, and 6.4% in December.

Says Ebiquity's chief operating officer, Nick Manning: "Buying a television advertisement is now the same price as it was in 1992. 

"We're looking at the tip of the iceberg here. Things have got an awful lot worse since August."

ITV commercial director Rupert Howell concurs: "Television advertising in the UK is now ridiculously cheap. In the space of a few years we have gone from being the most expensive television market in Europe to being about the cheapest."

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff