Outlook: Robinson takes a step nearer his goal

GERRY ROBINSON, chairman of Granada, has long believed that "there can only be one". Already he's beheaded and absorbed three of the original line-up of pretenders to the title. Now he appears set on advancing north of the border into Highlander territory.

As the ITV franchise-holders whittle down through takeover and merger into fewer and fewer players, the question remains - who will eventually emerge as top dog? Mr Robinson thinks that in the end there will be only one, and he's determined that even if Granada doesn't own it outright, it will certainly be the dominant partner. For that title, however, he has still to fight it out with Lord Hollick's United News and Media and Michael Green's Carlton.

The acquisition of Mirror Group's 18.6 per cent stake in Scottish Media, owner of the Scottish and Grampian franchises, brings Granada a staging post closer to its goal. For the time being, the rules seem to stop Granada from going any further. The last reform of the broadcasting legislation allows companies to own as many franchises as they like, provided they keep within 15 per cent of commercial television viewing. Separate competition rules prevent companies acquiring more than 25 per cent of ITV advertising. If Granada were to buy Scottish outright, both these ceilings might be breached. The company claims not; the industry disagrees.

What is not in doubt is that United and Carlton would suffer no such barrier. Certainly United, and possibly Carlton too, would be within the 15 per cent ceiling, and given that United already undertakes advertising sales for Scottish, that wouldn't have presented a problem either.

So Granada's move has to be seen as both defensive and offensive. Mr Robinson has bought the stake partly to stop others from doing it, but also against the day when either the rules change or the advance of multi- channel TV reduces his share of viewing sufficiently below the 15 per cent ceiling to enable outright takeover.

Perhaps the most intriguing question is why neither United nor Carlton tried to outbid him for the stake. The answer to this is that they might have tried to (or at least one of them did), but they wanted to mop up Flextech's similarly sized shareholding at the same time so that the combined stake could be used as a launching pad for a bid. This proved complex and difficult, so Mirror instead opted for the clean-break, no-strings offer from Granada.

For Scottish, then, Granada possibly offers a kind of salvation. Even so, it would do well to remember the line from the movie Highlander - "there can only be one" - and the fact that as far as ITV franchise-holding is concerned, it was Mr Robinson who was the first to use it.

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
Morrissey pictured in 2013
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Robyn Lawley
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

1st Line Support Technician / Application Support

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider of web based m...

Team Secretary - (Client Development/Sales Team) - Wimbledon

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Secretary (Sales Team Support) - Mat...

Accountant / Assistant Management Accountant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an Assistant Management Ac...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star