TV Merger Approved



The £4 billion merger between ITV giants Granada and Carlton has this morning been given Government approval.

The deal means that twelve of the 15 ITV companies throughout the country will merge.

But "behavioural remedies" are being imposed on the deal.

Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt said the broadcasters had to agree to a series of "behavioural remedies" aimed at limiting the impact of the merger on the television advertising market.

But she did not order the companies to sell off their advertising sales divisions.

Carlton and Granada had previously warned that being forced to dispose of the advertising sales houses would invalidate many of the benefits of the merger. They estimate this would have cost them around £20 million a year.

The merged ITV will control more than half of the commercial television advertising market, but will have to sell airtime at guaranteed levels to assuage advertisers' fears about price inflation.

Hewitt said the new safeguards must be in place by November.

"I am confident that the merged company will be able to compete more effectively with the BBC, channels 4 and 5, and BSkyB," she said.

"A stronger ITV will be better able to invest in and provide programming of high quality, including regional programmes. Broadcasting as a whole will benefit."