ITV continues to play a “hard game” when negotiating its sales contracts, despite being hindered by the contract rights renewal (CRR) mechanism, according to the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA).
It makes its assertions in the annual report for the Office of the Adjudicator, the Ofcom office which oversees CRR, the mechanism put in place to allow Granada and Carlton to merge.
It says that although in the last trading season the broadcaster did not attempt “overtly” to demand more cash from ITV1 than it was entitled to under CRR, it was “very bullish about its ITV Family proposition, almost to the extent of arm-twisting”.
It follows predictions earlier this year that although ITV1 would continue to lose ad revenue in 2008, its loss would be matched by gains in the broadcaster’s digital portfolio (MW March 5).
The trade body says that CRR, or “some similarly effective form of protection”, continues to be “vital in preventing ITV from unfairly exploiting its continued dominance”.
The Department for Trade and Industry promised a review of the mechanism earlier this year, following lobbying from ITV executive chairman Michael Grade. The IPA says that “despite ITV’s protestations to the contrary” its members saw no difference in the broadcaster’s position in today’s marketplace from that which existed in 2003.
Its belief is shared by the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA), which says that with ITV increasing its share of the top 1000 programmes from 977 in 2003 to 981 that “ITV’s continuing dominant position necessitates continued regulatory intervention”.
The Office of the Adjudicator says that it received three notices of adjudication relating to disputes between media agencies and advertisers and ITV – the same as a year earlier. It found in favour of the complainant in two of the cases and for ITV in the other case. It also received 37 guidance enquiries.