Advertisers criticize Web ad auctions by French TV channel

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PARIS--The Union of Advertisers (UDA)--a French body of 400clients, ad agencies and media buyers--is urging France Television to revise its recent plan to sell a small percentage of ad time on state-owned France 2 and France 3 via Internet auctions.

Although not opposed in principle to Internet auctions of TV ad space,the UDA says the system fails to provide the level of transparency and fair pricing established in France's framework advertising law.

The system offers "everything to the seller and nothing to the buyer,"according to Didier Beauclair, UDA spokesman. "The minimum prices take much of the interest out of the auction process, the sale by lots creates higher prices and the advance purchase system will leave advertisers holding the bag if programming changes."

Ad space buyers also claim that the new system will help infrequentadvertisers to pay inflated prices for specific time frames or targetaudiences, at the expense of loyal advertisers who put large percentages of their annual budgets into France Television programming.

France Television Publicite unveiled the Internet auction scheme in late September, claiming it would sell 5% of all space during the firstsemester of 2000 via online auctions and up to 10% of all space on France 2 and France 3 during the second half of the year.

France Television opened the online auctions Oct. 28 for ad space on France 2 and France 3 for the month of January. The process at ( establishes minimum prices unknown to bidders for all screens on offer, bundles various ad screens into packages and demands advance payment for all purchases.

Officials at France Television described the system as a ``modern'' means of matching ad space and interested advertisers that will increase revenues from a dwindling quantity of commercial screens per hour. The French government has reduced the amount of commercial time on the two state-subsidized networks by 25% in a bid to improve program content.

Copyright November 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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