Advertisers resist ITV firms' urge to merge

The message could not be more blunt if it was delivered by Cilla Black. When representatives from Britain's advertising industry meet the Competition Commission on Tuesday to discuss the proposed merger between Carlton and Granada, they will give it a big thumbs-down.

The message could not be more blunt if it was delivered by Cilla Black. When representatives from Britain's advertising industry meet the Competition Commission on Tuesday to discuss the proposed merger between Carlton and Granada, they will give it a big thumbs-down.

Advertisers are dead against the £2.4bn merger, believing that a single ITV company – controlling around 51 per cent of television advertising – would be anti-competitive. And, increasingly, advertisers are coming to the view that there is precious little which can be done to prevent a monopoly in advertising sales short of blocking the merger outright.

"We are very much opposed to the merger because of the combined airtime sales force," says Bernard Balderston, associate director of UK media at Procter & Gamble, the country's biggest spender on TV advertising with an annual budget of around £115m. "We don't see how this merger can proceed."

At Tuesday's meeting, the Commission will sit down with the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA), which represents companies responsible for two-thirds of UK television advertising. ISBA refuses to comment. However, it is thought to be worried that a merger would set a precedent for other television company sales forces to come together. The concern is shared by COI Communications, the Government's advertising agency which has an annual television budget of around £85m. A spokeswoman says: "The possible knock-on effect of other broadcasters following suit and merging their advertising sales is of concern."

Advertising agencies, represented by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, also have concerns. But there appears to be a little more optimism among some agencies that conditions can be attached to the merger to allay competition concerns.

"We reflect the view of our clients, and our clients are almost universally opposed to a single ITV sales house," says Rob Norman, chief executive of MediaEdge CIA, the media-buying arm of WPP Group. "ITV has half of all commercial impact and a massive proportion of the programmes that get 5 per cent of the total audience all at once."

Mr Norman says that apart from the "occasional freak of nature like the final episode of Big Brother on Channel 4", there is nowhere that advertisers can obtain a commercial audience of more than 10 million viewers outside ITV. These programmes are crucial for large-scale marketing campaigns, particularly new product launches where you want to get to the maximum number of viewers in the shortest possible time. "But what are the alternatives?" asks Mr Norman. He says the only split that has been shown to work is the divide between London weekday (Monday to Thursday) and London weekend.

The alternative to a weekday/weekend split is an alternate day arrangement – which ITV has said is unworkable – or splitting up the day into bands sold by different sales houses.

This could mean one sales house selling adverts during Coronation Street and another selling Lucky Jim. It could be the only way to make it Lucky ITV.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Media & Advertising Sales Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This national business publishi...

Recruitment Genius: Media Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£14500 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Guru Careers: Bathroom Showroom Manager / Bathroom Sales Designer

£22 - £25k basic + Commission=OTE £35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Bathroom Sh...

Guru Careers: Account Executive / Account Manager

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive / Account Manager is ...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea