Media / Talk of the trade: Beating the barons

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The Independent Online
YESTERDAY'S bid by Meridian for Anglia stems from the ambition of its chairman, Lord Hollick, to own a swathe of television franchises across the south and east of England, perhaps taking in either West Country or HTV (should the rules permit) at a later date. Lord Hollick, who took over the coveted Southampton- based franchise from TVS a year ago, has been forced to act sooner than he wanted: he was in favour of extending the moratorium on takeovers while cross-media ownership rules were hammered out.

Meridian has tried to cast itself at the upmarket end of ITV, contributing programmes such as John Mortimer's auction-room drama Under the Hammer. Newspaper barons must be gnashing their teeth: the most attractive and accessible ITV stations will have been swallowed up before Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for National Heritage, has even read all the submissions on new ownership rules.