ITC refusal on air time sales is blow to Granada

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The Independent Online
THE Independent Television Commission has refused to allow Granada to breach the 25 per cent ceiling on the amount of television advertising air time that may be sold by a single group.

As a result it may have to unwind arrangements under which it sells air time on behalf of some of the smaller ITV companies such as Scottish TV, which has a 4 per cent market share.

The leisure group controls about 29 per cent of ITV air time following its recent acquisition of the rival broadcaster LWT.

During the bid it was forced to give undertakings to Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, to reduce its share to 25 per cent by August 1995. But Mr Heseltine allowed the undertakings to reflect 'some flexibility' in the ceiling in view of the needs of smaller broadcasters.

The ITC, the ITV companies' regulator, followed this approach in a policy statement and Granada asked to merge its Time Exchange sales house with LWT's Laser.

In refusing permission, the ITC said this would be a 'significant excess' over the 25 per cent limit and also appeared to be at variance with the undertakings given to Mr Heseltine.

But it indicated it might revise its view if Granada were to persuade Mr Heseltine to modify the undertakings.