Ofcom to review TV airtime trading

Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards has said that the regulator is to review the “complex” issue of TV airtime trading practices.


If the review raises serious concerns about distortion of competition due to the current ad trading model there could be a referral to the Competition Commission (CC).

Richards made his statement about the review at the ISBA Conference today (17 March).

ISBA media and advertising director Bob Wootton says: “This is a major development in our regulatory landscape and follows widespread and concerted pressure over many years and from many quarters.

“This is a very complex and difficult challenge for Ofcom – no one expects this to be easy for the reviewers or indeed for our industry if the Competition Commission picks this up.

“There is a fundamental dichotomy here: an effective review needs to look at one point in time but the complexity of the issue means this will take much longer than that to complete. Nevertheless, we are looking forward to meeting the very real challenge this announcement presents.”

A CC review of the CRR undertakings made by ITV to allow the merger of Granada and Carlton concluded early last year that any changes have to arise from a wider consideration of TV trading.

The House of Lords Communications Committee recently recommended that CRR should be replaced with “binding undertakings” from ITV to invest an appropriate proportion of any additional revenues from advertising into creating UK-originated programming and training.

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