Laser Sales has increased the stakes in its dispute with CIA Medianetwork over alleged overdealing, by passing responsibility for the affair to the legal departments of its client broadcasters.
Laser sells airtime on behalf of its sister companies, Granada and LWT, as well as for the Yorkshire Tyne-Tees and Border outfits.
The move reduces the possibility that the dispute, which reportedly involves up to 4m in revenue, can be settled by carrying any debts over into next year’s airtime trading. However, Laser sources maintain the broadcasters have not yet begun legal action against CIA.
Yorkshire Tyne-Tees is thought least likely to want a negotiated settlement. Its managing director Bruce Gyngell is renowned for courting controversy and has taken a bullish attitude to the dispute so far.
YTTV’s chairman, Ward Thomas, is also thought to be unwilling to back down. He was a director of YTTV in 1993 when the broadcaster had to repay over 15m to agencies because of its own over-dealing problems.
YTTV is also likely to be less sensitive about its relationship with CIA than Laser, which is highly dependent on CIA’s spend. YTTV is trying to avoid being taken over by Granada and has put the Granada-owned sales house on public notice that it will lose YTTV’s business if its share of ITV revenue does not increase.
“Because it does not own us it may well insist on a line of action,” says a Laser source.
ITV sales houses Laser and TSMS are in dispute with CIA about an alleged 3m to 4m of discount the media buyer received from the sales houses (MW August 2).