Granada Media to buy rival for £1.75bn

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The Independent Online

Media giant Granada is to pay £1.75bn to take over rival group United News & Media's broadcast, production and distribution businesses, it announced today.

Media giant Granada is to pay £1.75bn to take over rival group United News & Media's broadcast, production and distribution businesses, it announced today.

United's TV interests - which include the Meridian, Anglia and HTV TV franchises - will be acquired by Granada Media as part of the deal.

Charles Allen, Granada Media chairman, said the deal increased his company's national footprint, strengthened its offering to advertisers and allowed it to play a leading role in ITV.

Granada Media said United's strengths in children's, animation and wildlife programmes would complement its own strengths in drama, soap and entertainment and factual genres.

It expected the combined business to generate cost savings of around £30 million a year by 2002.

Today's announcement follows months of speculation surrounding the consolidation of the media industry.

But under rules laid out by Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers earlier this month Granada Media will have to sell off, or dilute its interest in, one of its lucrative TV franchises for the deal to be allowed through.

Industry insiders said the most likely franchise to be sacrificed would be the HTV network which covers Wales and the West of England.

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