TV chiefs unite for airtime push

ITV is fighting back against growing advertiser concern about falling peaktime evening audiences and rising airtime costs.

At an ITV Council meeting on Monday, ITV heads “unanimously endorsed” network director Marcus Plantin’s plans for the autumn 1995 schedule, which will be presented to advertisers next week.

Although exact details will not be revealed until an agency presentation on July 6, ITV has considered options including extra funds for the autumn schedule and increased commercial minutage.

Extra funding has been approved, but ITV is not believed to favour either increased minutage or rescheduling News at Ten – the preferred option of a number of agencies who believe it would allow greater flexibility.

At the same time, the ITV Network Centre released figures which show that last week ITV scored its biggest share of audience so far this year. Between 7pm and 10.30pm, ITV achieved 44.5 per cent of viewing compared with BBC1’s 30.3 per cent.

“We are aware of the concerns and the problems faced by advertisers and we shall continue our discussions with them over the coming weeks,” ITV Council chairman Leslie Hill says.

“ITV will continue to make the investment it believes

necessary to keep brand leadership in an increasingly competitive market.”

Agency heads are reserving judgment until next week’s autumn schedule launch. “What’s critical is the substance delivered, not the rhetoric,” says one media director.

“Growing media speculation is muddying the water,” another adds. “Even if they did agree to reschedule News at Ten, it would be unlikely to happen before late 1996. We need action now.”

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