…CIA ups its cash offer to Laser as 1997 booking deadline looms

CIA Medianetwork has made an unconditional offer to settle the airtime dispute with Laser and its broadcasters out of its own funds.

CIA is believed to be offering to pay off its 1m debt from 1995 in cash, a move unconnected to the parallel dispute over the 1996 airtime deal. This would negate the writs issued by Yorkshire Tyne-Tees, Granada/LWT and Border last week.

CIA is also understood to be offering cash payment for its 1996 debt, if Laser’s broadcasters cannot agree to roll it over into 1997. The offer was made last week and a response was expected from Laser as Marketing Week went to press.

The agency is close to starting bookings for its clients for the beginning of January but Laser has threatened to remove CIA’s recognition and credit rating from January 1 if the 1995 deal is not resolved. CIA is now concerned Laser will link reinstating recognition to the achievement of a “gilt-edged” deal for the sales house’s broadcasters in 1997 and 1998.

There is also concern that if Laser accepts cash to resolve the 1996 deal the precedent would hamper deals from rolling over into subsequent years. All agency airtime deals currently include clauses that allow money to be rolled over into the following year’s negotiations.

CIA would still buy airtime on Laser if it has to settle 1996 in cash, but agency buyers estimate that Laser could lose up to 5m of CIA’s current 30m spend if the deal is not rolled over and CIA spends that money elsewhere.

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