British Telecom is to move its &£7.5m radio planning and buying account out of Zenith Optimedia to Starcom MediaVest, which already handles press buying for the telecoms giant.
Starcom will take on radio planning and buying responsibilities in April. BT says the change has been made “in the interests of efficiency”.
A spokesman denies that the decision will lead to further consolidation, amid industry speculation that BT is considering axing its existing agency arrangements and aligning itself with a single holding company.
The spokesman adds: “This is localised to the media roster. There are no plans to rationalise further at this stage.”
BT’s relationships with PHD, which handles media strategy, and The Allmond Partnership (TAP), which looks after television buying, are thought to be unaffected.
Any consolidation into a single holding company would threaten TAP, an independent media agency, and also St Luke’s, one of BT’s four advertising agencies. Abbott Mead Vickers.BBDO, Fallon and Quiet Storm are the other agencies on BT’s &£84m advertising roster.
Zenith Optimedia chief executive Antony Young says of the decision to move radio buying: “We are expecting BT’s radio budgets to be substantially down for the next few years, so it seems this is a decision that makes sense for them.”
Ofcom is two-thirds of the way through its review of the telecoms sector, which requires BT to make “behavioural and organisational changes” to allow rivals equal access to its network.