Lords report on TV ads "bemusing", say UK advertisers


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Advertisers have said they are "disappointed and bemused" by today's Lords' Communications Committee report on the regulation of television advertising and are urging the Government to treat its recommendations with "the utmost caution".

Bob Wootton, Director of Media and Advertising at advertiser body ISBA, said that the outcome of the committee's six-month inquiry "undoes several years' rigorous review by no less than three dedicated statutory regulators, each charged with upholding the public interest."

The report concludes that the amount of advertising on all TV channels is reduced to an average of only seven minutes per hour. This, continued Wootton, "will not be good for the economies of broadcasters, and would have a disproportionately damaging effect on the most commercially fragile, which also stand to lose the largest amount of commercial airtime inventory."

The report also recommends that the Contract Rights Renewal pricing remedy which governs ITV's pricing of its flagship ITV1 channel should be removed. ITV would instead be required to invest additional revenues from advertising on improving quality and on UK originated programming.

Wootton said that even the report concedes this would require the introduction of primary legislation into an already busy legislative timetable. He added: "Removing CRR would be unlikely to improve ITV's performance in generating viewing audiences, yet it could well serve to improve this single medium-sized FTSE 250 company's fortunes at the expense of many others."

Finally, the report proposes a "short, focused review of the trading system for television advertising airtime in order to find a more transparent system which includes a robust appeals process to address any outstanding industry concerns", to which Wootton said: "This is an issue that has exercised industry and the relevant statutory regulators for several years, the current consensus being that any such review would be extremely complex, onerous and quite possibly inconclusive at a time when business is already fragile and its ability to engage in such review limited as it seeks to exit recession."

For more information please contact Matt Aston matta@isba.org.uk

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