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ITV boosted by change in advert rules

THE COMPETITION Commission is today expected to relax the rules governing the way ITV1 sells advertising, in a move that could net the firm an additional &pound;20m in annual revenues.<br /><br />The regulator has been reviewing the contracts rights renewal (CRR) system, which was introduced when Carlton and Granada merged in 2003 to protect advertisers from ITV1 abusing its position as the UK&rsquo;s biggest commercial broadcaster.<br /><br />The old rules force ITV to offer pre-merger rates and penalise it for any drops in audience numbers, while other channels are free to set their own tariffs.<br /><br />ITV has campaigned for the abolition of the rules, arguing that the proliferation of digital channels and the surge in internet advertising have transformed the market since 2003, when its share of ad spend was over 50 per cent.<br /><br />Obsevers do not believe that CRR will be completely scrapped, but think the watchdog will relax the process and extend the system to cover other ITV1 channels, such as a proposed ITV1+1 time-shifted channel and ITV1 HD.<br /><br />This would prevent ITV from being penalised for any loss of audience to the newer channel, and allow it to grow its business.<br /><br />Toby Syfret of Enders Analysis estimates the launch of ITV1+1 could bring in around &pound;20m a year. The news comes the day after ITV learnt of plans to allow product placement.