Regulation and technology continue to play a key role in the Audio-Visual market, whilst concerns over consolidation remain prevalent.

As regulation and consolidation continue to play an important role in the Audio-Visual market, ISBA continues to influence a number of reports, decisions and consultations, with significant advertiser input. 

As the uptake of web-enabled TV devices proliferates, advertisers attempt to identify the associated creative and commercial opportunities available. However, the volume of planning tools being developed in the area serves to confuse the notion of universal industry metrics.

Issues currently being discussed within Audio-Visual include:

Potential Channel 4 Privatisation

The speculation of a potential government sell-off in early October 2015 with a leaked document being photographed outside No.10 prompted ISBA, on behalf of its members, to contribute to a document commissioned by Channel 4. To view the ISBA response to House of Lords - Select Committee Channel 4 Sustainability Apr 2016, please click here.

Channel 4 also faces mounting pressure to decamp from London with the Government expected to indicate it favours moving the broadcaster north to help re-balance the economy. This decision has now been postponed until after the election. 

Contracts Rights Renewal

One of ISBAs most significant legacies is the introduction of the Contract Rights Renewal price control mechanism, linking the share of budgets ITV can command from advertisers to its audience delivery. ISBA urged its imposition when the two sales houses Carlton and Granada merged in 2003, to form ITV plc.  

Despite recommendations made by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to the Competition Commission (CC) that CRR should be relaxed in 2009, the CC decided to keep the pricing mechanism, recognising advertiser and agency concerns that ITV clearly continues to have significant market power. The CC rightly acknowledged that developments since its inception in 2003, such as time-shifted and high definition channels, could justify some variation. ISBA collaborated with the OFT and Ofcom to implement suitable adjustments to CRR. 

ISBA members can find out more details here.

Radio Disclaimers 

This issue dates back to 2013 and the general consensus among the group was/and still is is that carrying mandated (but often meaningless) radio disclaimers extends the length of commercials and adds to the cost of the radio advertisements.  

The Radiocentre, in January 2016, appointed a new CEO, Siobhan Kenny who has made it her mission to lobby the EU in the removal of these unnecessary disclaimers. ISBA fully supports this and was awaiting the results of the new submission into the REFIT programme part of the European Commission’s drive to bring in better regulation. The case is being made that the goal of the Directive is not being fulfilled as far as radio listeners are concerned and the terms and conditions are especially intrusive in an audio environment.    

The strategy for next steps has now had to change since the vote to leave the EU. The Radiocentre have now postponed follow up meetings with the Commission/MEPs and will have to wait a while for the dust to settle before picking up the reigns with UK government.

The plan, in the meantime, will be to meet with the Treasury and DCMS (and possibly the FCA) to try to get an understanding of sensible timelines for discussions on UK regulation post Brexit.

On a more positive note the work which has been done by all parties to push for changes in EU regulations will still be helpful for any forthcoming UK discussions too.

Newspaper consolidation

Newspapers are fighting a battle against declining circulations, whilst competing for revenue against new media channels. The UK’s newspapers are coming together for the first time in a project set up to look into the possibility of combining ad sales to help fight for their share of the market. National press publishers had set aside their differences to sign up to the extensive research piece – this includes Trinity Mirror, News UK, Northern & Shell, Telegraph Media Group, Guardian Media Group, and Daily Mail & General Trust.

The Audio-Visual group were not overly concerned by the potential merger for all publishers to amalgamate their print sales including their digital offerings into one. In fact, there was a positive response relating to the digital aspect which was if harmonization could be achieved regarding measurement across these digital platforms it would be seen as a positive step forward.

Recent developments have included DMGT pulling out of the Project Arena in January. DMGT was said to feel the legal obstacles and costs were too high, with little chance of persuading regulators at the Competition and Markets Authority.

In addition, at the end of February, Trinity Mirror also pulled out leaving News UK, Telegraph Media Group, and the owner of The Guardian still trying to collaborate.

Whilst ISBA supports all media channels equally, it will be down to the publishers to put aside their differences in order to be able to compete with the likes of Facebook and Google. There will be an obvious benefit to both advertisers and publishers as this collaboration may contribute to the survival of national press publishers.