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ITV loses ad price war but shares gain

BRITISH broadcaster ITV failed in its bid to win more freedom to set advertising prices but its shares rose almost seven per cent yesterday as a new Conservative-led government raised hopes of deregulation.

The Competition Commission ruled that ITV must continue to allow advertisers to renew their existing contracts, adjusted for audience share, and said the broadcaster had exaggerated the negative effects of the system.

But it renewed its call for an overall review of the system for selling television advertising, as investors bet the new government would be more sympathetic to ITV than the outgoing Labour party. New Prime Minister David Cameron is a former public-relations executive with regional broadcaster Carlton Communications, which merged with Granada in 2004 to form ITV .

ITV, under new management since last month, has argued that the so-called contracts rights (CRR) renewal undertakings that govern the way it sells advertising are a relic of a pre-digital age when ITV dominated commercial broadcasting in Britain.

Chief executive Adam Crozier said in a statement ITV was unlikely to seek a judicial review of the decision. It has no option to appeal.

ITV’s shares closed 6.9 per cent higher at 61.45p.