Channel 4 recently announced that for the time being it would no longer carry ads on its broadband TV simulcast service. The decision followed concerns voiced by agency body the IPA over rights clearance. What are the issues and is this only the start of a new digital headache for advertisers?
Topic: Channel 4 is warned that streaming "made for TV" ads on the Internet could result in claims against agencies.
Who: Channel 4 and the IPA
Where: The UK
When: July 2006
Channel 4 has recently had its knuckles rapped by The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising. The IPA has expressed concerns about the broadcaster exposing advertising agencies to the risk of legal action by actors, musicians and other rights holders for running adverts on its new internet TV services without clearing those adverts for use in that media.
"The Channel 4 Live Simulcast" is a recently launched service which enables registered users to watch Channel 4 TV – such as "Big Brother" and "Hollyoaks" – live via their PC, free of charge. The broadcaster is the first to "simulcast" its programmes to pcs at the same time as they are being broadcast on television.
However, not all its shows are available on-line – some acquired from other broadcasters, such as Friends, Lost and Desperate Housewives, are not yet viewable on the service due to limitations imposed by the licensors on C4's rights to show those programmes on the Internet. For similar reasons, the simulcast is also not available to users outside of the UK.
Even where C4 does have the rights to simulcast the programmes themselves, attention is now being focused on the adverts booked to appear between those programmes.
The IPA has asked C4 to either ensure all rights are cleared to show adverts on-line, or to provide an indemnity to agencies and clients against artists and musicians suing for royalties.
Why this matters:
Rapid technological progress means viewers increasingly want content to be available in the new media formats such as IPTV, webTV and mobile TV. This is potentially excellent news for broadcasters and advertisers, who can benefit from increased and easier access to new and niche target audiences. However, it is often a struggle to ensure that underlying rights acquisition agreements keep pace with these developments, but it is essential to ensure they do in order to avoid potentially embarrassing and expensive disputes.