Elstein recruits TVS executives to back ITV bid

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The Independent Online

Two of the key people behind TVS, an ITV group which lost its franchise a decade ago, have emerged as backers for David Elstein's tilt at the commercial network.

Mr Elstein, a former head of Channel 5 as well as a director of Thames TV, which also lost its franchise, has made a pitch to take control of a merged Granada and Carlton, if the two ITV giants are allowed to come together. A ruling on the merger by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Patricia Hewitt, is due in the next couple of weeks.

Mr Elstein is thought to be backed by Peter Clark, the chairman of Media Ventures International, an investment company that concentrates on TV and radio. And he is using research from Enders Analysis, a Dundee-based company run by Claire Enders, an American who used to be an adviser at EMI.

Both Mr Clark and Ms Enders were senior executives at TVS. The company ran into trouble after it purchased MTM Entertainment, the US TV production, company founded by Mary Tyler Moore.

TVS then lost its franchise to Meridian, a company owned by United Business Media, in the bid round in the early 1990s. TVS was eventually sold to a company controlled by Pat Robertson, the right-wing religious leader who once stood for President of the US.

Mr Elstein is also understood to have approached Richard Brooke, the former finance director of BSkyB, and Damien Harte, who was finance director of Channel 5, to take senior jobs in ITV if he is successful.

Mr Elstein has been working with the Conservative Party over its policies on media ownership and the BBC's income from the TV licence fee.

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