WPP’s GroupM will do a deal with Channel 4 – but what they’re arguing about is position not price

Despite reports to the contrary WPP’s media negotiating behemoth Group M will do a deal with UK terrestrial broadcaster Channel 4, thereby guaranteeing about 27 per cent of its revenue.

Which is obviously good news for C4, which would be up shit creek without a paddle if the GroupM deal didn’t happen. And also for GroupM owner WPP, which doesn’t want to be seen as pulling the rug from under a popular broadcaster – just because, with about 30 per cent of the global media market, it can.

The real argument between GroupM trading supremo Mark Collins and C4 is not about price, but what spots do GroupM’s media agencies get in top C4 shows?

Since it abandoned Big Brother, now on Richard Desmond’s Channel Five, C4 doesn’t have a sure-fire ratings winner. Brookside now seems a long time ago.

So it’s struggling for the rating numbers and, some say, trying to fob GroupM off with lots of airtime on shows that nobody watches – while selling the prime spots on things like Homeland, its daft US conspiracy series, to others at premium prices.

GroupM clearly isn’t going to fall for this one. But a deal will be done in January.

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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.