Mirror threat to sue ITV over ads

Mirror Group is threatening legal action against ITV following its decision to ban commercials advertising a Daily Mirror promotion linked to the BBC1 series Big Break.

ITV sales chiefs claim the ads, which featured Big Break presenter Jim Davidson, directly encourage viewers to turn on to BBC1 so they participate in the game card promotion.

Mirror Group appealed to the Independent Television Commission against ITV’s ban. However, the ITC confirmed this week that it has upheld the ITV decision.

“We are very angry about it,” explains Mirror Group promotions director Amanda Platell. The Daily Mirror suggested amended copy, but this too was turned down, she says.

However, the final straw came at the weekend when ITV broadcast ads for a Sunday Times promotion themed around BBC1’s Antiques Roadshow.

“These ads did just what we were told we were not allowed to do – they used the series’ presenter, the promotion featured the name of the show and (the BBC programme) was promoted on the ITV network,” says Platell.

Mirror Group lawyers are now reassessing the situation in the light of the precedent set by News International, she adds. If ITV does not lift the ban “the whole thing could end up in the High Court”.

ITV would not comment directly on the situation.

However, Jerry Hill, managing director of sales house TSMS, explains that ITV’s stance on the Mirror Group ad depends on its creative content. The Sunday Times ad “was more toned down in form, and so was acceptable”, he explains.

ITV is within its rights to ban ads from other broadcasters that specifically promote a rival programme. However, the ITC code rules that all broadcasters must carry generic campaigns for their competitors.

Media, page 12

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