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Regional agencies becoming more savvy about CRR

LONDON - Regional agencies are becoming as savvy about their rights under the Contract Rights Renewal system as their London counterparts, according to Ofcom.

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The Ofcom's Office of the Adjudicator, brought in after the merger of Granada and Carlton Communications in November 2003, said as part of its periodic report that "a relatively high proportion of guidance enquiries have come from regional media agencies", suggesting that regional agencies are now addressing the mechanism as part of their negotiations with ITV.

Previously, the adjudicator, which protects media agencies and their advertisers from the power of the merged ITV, was seen to have dealt mainly with complaints from London-based media agencies. The first high-profile complaint is believed to have come from MediaCom's London office.

The change suggests that regional agencies are now more au fait with the workings of the process.

As part of the report, last published in April 2005, the Office of the Adjudicator said it had acted on a further three disputes between media agencies and advertisers, bringing the total disputes acted on since the introduction of the CRR mechanism to nine.

The three disputes included challenges to: "the terms offered by ITV to a media agency that was proposing to amend some of the parameters of its core agency deal"; "the terms offered to an advertiser requesting a 'burst' campaign on ITV1"; and a "resubmission of an earlier notice of adjudication where the agency was dissatisfied with the revised terms offered by ITV".

Ofcom rejected calls for a full-scale review of the UK television advertising market in December last year, but has left the door open for changes to the controversial Contract Renewal Rights scheme.

The media regulator had been asked to consider a wider review by the Competition Commission to update the CRR, which was put in place when Granada and Carlton merged to form ITV was rubber stamped.

The Office of the Adjudicator is held by Robert Ditcham, the former commercial director at Initiative, who took up the position of adjudicator last month, replacing David Connolly who left the organisation.

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