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.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
i100... with this review
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam