ITV has launched its most bullish and ambitious round of TV trading since the introduction of the contracts rights renewal, telling agencies it is looking to retain up to 140% of CRR.
The CRR mechanism was introduced to allow the merger of Carlton and Granada in 2004, in order to protect advertisers against an overly dominant ITV.
The mechanism, which is being reviewed by the Office of Fair Trading and Ofcom, acts as a ratchet allowing advertisers to pull out investment in line with a decline in viewing figures. It is estimated that ITV has lost more than £300m through the system since 2004.
However, CRR applies only to ITV1 and the broadcaster is touting the strength of its fast-growing digital portfolio, which includes ITV2, the UK’s most watched digital channel, ITV3, ITV4 and CITV as well as its timeshifted channels.
The broadcaster also appears to have slowed the decline of its viewing figures of its terrestrial channel. This has been attributed to the credit crunch, which has led to more people staying in, and its ownership of the FA Cup and the England Internationals.
One media executive says: “ITV is looking for 140% of CRR retention.” Another adds that deflation in the price of airtime – TV advertising is at its cheapest since 1992 – means that ITV needs to “talk tough”. He says: “ITV is assertive – it is in a position where it has to be. The way the market is going generally is if they just take up to the CRR position in theory it won’t make a profit.”