Carlton boss seeks reform of media ownership rules

The Government must allow ITV firms the commercial freedom already granted to the BBC to expand their businesses abroad, Carlton UK Television chairman Nigel Walmsley told the European Television Marketing Conference in London yesterday (Tuesday).

Only reform of UK media ownership rules will allow media companies to compete effectively overseas, he says. “Regulators confuse pluralism with fragmentation, a cottage industry with variety, and smallness with vitality. Why should commercial firms, with greater financial flexibility, be denied opportunities to build a similar home base?”

Current restrictions laid down in the Broadcasting Act should be replaced by normal competition policy, he suggested. This will allow further consolidation among ITV companies.

Current restrictions take little account of generally accepted notions of marketshare, he added. They are also uneven – no restrictions limit the ownership of non-domestic satellite channels by newspapers, and overseas companies are favoured.

Also speaking at the conference is Lintas’ European media director Paul Longhurst.

“New media” will allow consumers to search “on screen” for the cheapest product, damaging margins and company profits, increasing the need for the agency to protect the brand, he will tell the conference today (Wednesday).

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