Channel 4 in merger talks with Five

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The Independent Online

ChanneL 4 and channel Five are said to be discussing a merger, a move which would dramatically alter the British television industry.

Mark Thompson, chief executive of Channel 4, has confirmed that talks are under way, The Guardian reports today. It is believed that Mr Thompson has met United Business Media and RTL, the joint owners of Five, to discuss plans to combine their sales operations but the talks have expanded and a full merger is being considered.

One option said to be under consideration is running the two businesses together but with separate television schedules, similar to BBC1 and BBC2. It is believed the initial idea originated with Lord Hollick, the minority shareholder in Five and the chairman of United Business Media, although it is thought that Mr Thompson has met representatives of the German majority shareholder RTL.