A dramatic shift of power inthe UK cinema advertising market is on the horizon.
UK cinema chain UGC's screenadvertising contract, currently held by Pearl and Dean, is to pass to CarltonScreen Advertising (CSA) in early 2006, according to a spokesperson at CSA. Themove follows the acquisition of UGC by Cineworld, which also controls theCine-UK chain.
CSA currently providesscreen advertising for both the Odeon and UCI chains, as well as Cine-UK, andthe addition of UGC to its portfolio would increase its market share to 80% -leaving the only other player in the market, Pearl & Dean, with 20%.
And while some believe thatthe Monopolies And Mergers Commission may intervene in the creation of such animbalance in a market worth £272m (in 2002), Pearl & Dean's future survivalmay lie elsewhere.
According to a number ofindustry sources, UK exhibitor VUE cinemas is close to signing a deal toacquire the Ster Century circuit. Assuming that VUE, boosted by Ster Century,retains Pearl & Dean for its cinema advertising, the agency's business maystill prove sustainable - especially as another of its clients, Apollo Cinemas,recently unveiled a robust development programme across the country.
Meanwhile, speculationsurrounding the sale of CSA by parent company ITV continues. With CSA'sstronghold on the UK cinema advertising business, ITV's 'non-core asset'becomes eminently more attractive as an acquisition option.
ITV has sold five of itsnon-core assets in the past six months. Just this week it sold prop hire businessSuperhire for £8.2m, having previously offloaded special effects business TheMoving Picture Company for £52.7m, as well as Carlton Books and its stakes inVillage Roadshow and France's Thomson.
Meanwhile, rumours about whowill head up the combined Odeon/UCI circuit, recently acquired by Terra Firma,have shifted from talk about the return of former Odeon MD Richard Segal to anew candidate: Philip Knatchbull.
Better known as producer ofthe feature film Get Back, as well as a number of British TV films, in1989 he was founder shareholder and chairman of Showcase Cinemas opening 10screens across London.