THIS WEEK: Laser to sue CIA in sales dispute

The behind-closed-doors business of TV airtime sales erupted into public this week as ITV sales house Laser said it is to sue CIA Media-network UK for almost pounds 1m for undelivered advertising revenue.

The behind-closed-doors business of TV airtime sales erupted into public

this week as ITV sales house Laser said it is to sue CIA Media-network

UK for almost pounds 1m for undelivered advertising revenue.



Laser has told its solicitors to issue writs against CIA. It has also

taken the unprecedented step of sending 30 letters to top advertisers

warning that if the dispute is not settled by January 1 it will refuse

CIA both credit and the agency discount on promised spend.



Laser would demand money up front for airtime bookings, in a move which

could jeopardise media campaigns and budgets for advertisers. The

letters were sent to clients including Commercial Union, Daewoo, Lloyds

TSB and Wrigley.



But Mick Desmond, chief executive of Laser Sales, said: ‘The dispute is

with the agency, not with its clients.’



The conflict centres on the amount of airtime traded during 1995. Laser

claims CIA committed to a certain spend and received discounts for it

but did not deliver.



Laser claims that four ITV stations are owed cash. They are Yorkshire

Tyne Tees TV (pounds 785,081), Granada TV (pounds 74,722), LWT (pounds

115,201) and Border TV (pounds 4,353).



It is the first time an ITV sales house has ever issued a writ against a

media buying agency and could signal a radical shake-up in the way media

deals are done.



CIA has sent out letters to its clients stating that there is a dispute

and explaining its case. The letter refers to Laser’s ‘heavy-handed and

aggressive tactics’ during the negotiations at Laser’s headquarters in

Gray’s Inn Road.



A Laser spokesman confirmed there is also a shortfall in CIA’s 1996

forecasts. He said: ‘CIA has instructed us to increase prices for

airtime to resolve the problem.’ The revised prices have been given in

the letters sent out by Laser.



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