ITV new boy Crozier moans too much about CRR verdict

The UK Competition Commission has decided to keep the Contract Rights Renewal system for ITV (which prevents the network jacking up prices for advertisers who reduce their spend) although it says it won’t stay ‘for ever.’

But why shouldn’t it?

The way ITV sells airtime, via cosy deals with media agencies if they keep up their share of spending on ITV, goes back to the days when ITV was a monopoly and, in the words of one of its early regional barons, Lord Thomson of Scottish Television, “a licence to print money.”

And for new ITV CEO Adam Crozier to claim that the CC’s verdict is “out of touch…and damaging for the interests of creative Britain” is just barmy.

It isn’t out of touch with the interests of the advertisers who ultimately pay Crozier’s generous salary. As for damaging creative Britain, come off it.

One of the weaknesses of ITV is that it signally fails to make programmes that people elsewhere in the world want to buy, thereby doing very little to support creative Britain at all. Admittedly Crozier has hired Kevin Lygo from Channel 4 to try to put some fizz and vim into ITV studios (at the moment ITV programme boss Peter Fincham much prefers to buy elsewhere so, by Crozier’s reasoning, he isn’t supporting creative Britain much either).

And Crozier should certainly recall that it was ITV itself that invented CRR. It was then CEO Charles Allen’s clever wheeze to persuade the competition authorities to allow the merger of Carlton and Granada, all that was left of ITV’s regional structure by 2003, into ITV plc.

Which was supposed to be another licence to print money of course.

ITV should stop moaning about CRR and concentrate on harnessing a reviving ad market to turn itself into a decent international broadcast company.

As Crozier, in his more rational moments, is no doubt aware.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.