U.K. may ease TV ad regs

Move follows Granada, Carlton merger

LONDON — U.K. super regulator Ofcom announced Wednesday it is launching a review of the rules governing how TV advertising is sold, a move expected to prompt the removal of restrictions on rival broadcasters selling their airtime jointly.

The move follows Tuesday’s decision to allow Granada and Carlton, ITV’s two biggest shareholders, to merge and retain both airtime sales houses, giving the broadcaster control of more than 50% of the TV ad market.

Fears raised

Commercial broadcasters Channel 4 and Five and satcaster BSkyB had warned there could be further consolidation in the marketplace if ITV was allowed to keep both sales houses as part of its £4 billion ($6.4 billion) merger.

The Competition Commission has called for a wider review of TV advertising sales following its probe into the ITV merger. Its report published Tuesday said aspects of the industry had caused “disquiet.”

Broadcasters, advertisers and agencies have until Nov. 14 to give their views on the current rules.

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