Bland presses Granada on sales

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SIR Christopher Bland, chairman of LWT, the London television station currently the subject of a hostile bid from Granada, wants the conglomerate to spell out how it will re-organise its advertising sales arrangements if its offer succeeds, writes Gail Counsell.

Sir Christopher said Granada had to justify its earlier assertion that the costs involved in rejigging the advertising aspects of a merged Granada/LWT would not be material.

On Friday, Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, indicated that Granada's bid for LWT would escape a reference to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission if it gave assurances to the Office of Fair Trading about future arrangements for selling airtime.

A merged Granada/LWT would control about 40 per cent of ITV airtime sales through two advertising sales houses, and the OFT has indicated that it would like to see Granada unscramble these interests.

Granada said yesterday that it had confirmed to the Office of Fair Trading that it was willing to give any undertakings necessary.

But the LWT camp is stressing the cost to Granada of breaking existing airtime sales arrangements in order to meet the stipulations of the competition authorities.

Granada has a three-year deal with the Time Exchange airtime sales house, while LWT has a five-year deal involving sales made by its own subsidiary, Laser.

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