Magazine article Marketing

OPINION: Regulators' Remedy Massages Merged ITV Back to Rude Health

Magazine article Marketing

OPINION: Regulators' Remedy Massages Merged ITV Back to Rude Health

Article excerpt

Now that we know the details of one of the biggest decisions that will affect the commercial half of British TV for years to come, what is the prognosis?

There is no question that the patient - ITV plc - has had an enormous blood transfusion and been given at least a chance of resuming normal life. After a month or two of cosmetic conversations with the Office of Fair Trading and Ofcom, ITV will be able to do what it wants and be greatly strengthened as a result.

Not surprisingly, Charles Allen of Granada, the new chief executive of ITV plc, believes the Competition Commission has done a terrific job. 'It was well-resourced and really got to grips with the TV advertising market. It really understood it,' Allen insisted.

He is right. At the end of the process the Commission staff were completely in control of the rather arcane language of share deals and station average price.

Everyone involved has been glibly using these terms for years. Anyone who needs a swift fix on how the advertising market works need look no further than last week's report.

In fact, perhaps it started to get a bit too proficient, and rather dangerously began to wonder whether uncompetitive practices lurked under the 'opaque', if not downright secret, deals done over decent lunches.

A delve into the report makes it clear that it was a close-run thing for the two ITV companies. Only two remedies to the advertising sales problem were found acceptable. One was selling both sales houses and the other was contract rights renewal. …

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