Taking on the big guy 

28 August 2008 tbs.pm/935

Broadcast is reporting that SMG, UTV and Channel are about to appoint independent consultants in order to review the amount they pay for ITV programming, with the view being that they’re paying too much.

There’s an element of inevitability about this one – and the one surprise is that has taken so long.

Ever since Carlton and Granada merged, SMG, UTV and Channel have been pretty much small fry in the ITV network. With ITV plc dominating, and providing services to 89% of the population, the current network structure is inevitably not going to represent their interests.

And it therefore should come as no surprise to anyone that in a world where they get little say, they’re not happy about what they have to pay to maintain the status quo. Their move comes after Michael Grade attacked the trio for paying too little.

But then you can’t be particularly surprised that SMG, UTV and Channel are not that happy with paying for programmes that they have little say in what they’re actually paying for.

Unfortunately for SMG, UTV and Channel, they do still need ITV’s network programming, and they need ITV plc more than ITV plc need them. But it does highlight again the huge inconsistency in the ITV “network” and the different priorities. If an independent consultant finds in their favour, and if Ofcom agrees and takes the matter further, it would create yet another money problem for ITV plc. And in the long term, ITV plc might start to regret not finishing the consolidation it started…