ITV network under threat: Chief executives to challenge government over ban on company takeovers

THE CHIEF executives of the 15 ITV regional companies are to meet Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for National Heritage, this afternoon to try to resolve a dispute that threatens the existence of some of the companies.

At issue is the question of whether there should be a change in the 1990 Broadcasting Act on takeover rules. Under the Act, there is a moratorium on takeovers of ITV companies until the end of this year, unless they are mutually agreed 'friendly' takeovers, such as Yorkshire TV's recent acquisition of Tyne Tees.

But from January any of the 15 companies could be exposed to takeover bids from outside concerns, including European conglomerates. The five smallest companies - Border, Channel, Westcountry, Grampian, Ulster - could also be legally taken over by each other or by any of the nine larger companies - Carlton, LWT, Central, Anglia, Scottish, Granada, Yorkshire/Tyne Tees, Meridian and HTV.

As the Act stands, there will still be a ban on any of the 'big nine' companies taking over each other. Executives of the largest companies, notably Carlton and Central, will try to persuade Mr Brooke that this is an anomaly because it allows them to be absorbed into European concerns, but bans 'commercially-sensible' mergers that would reduce ITV's overheads. While accepting that there will have to be a rule forbidding a single grouping from controlling too much revenue in ITV, the bigger companies want the ban on takeovers within the 'big nine' lifted at the same time as the moratorium ends.

Carlton Television argues that mergers between the bigger companies could result in up to pounds 100m savings within the ITV network. Peter Ibbotson, the company's director of corporate affairs, points to the pounds 3m Carlton and LWT have saved by running a joint news operation. Sources at both Carlton and Central are confident that Mr Brooke is willing to lift the ban which is alarming Anglia, Meridian and HTV, three other members of the 'big nine', who will urge the minister not to change the Act.

'This is about Carlton and Central wanting to rule the world, to be the big players and to take out the little companies,' Simon Forest, controller of corporate affairs at HTV, said.

The smaller companies argue that the larger companies would not be able to serve the country with the regional specialism that the smaller ones do at present. David McCall, Anglia's chief executive, said the Act was framed to protect the regional nature of ITV and its regionalism is one of the network's great strengths. 'Saving pounds 100m would have to mean a metropolitan-based ITV which could not have that regional commitment.'

Instead, he and other companies want the moratorium on all takeovers extended by at least two years so that the future funding of the BBC, a key factor in the economic prospects of ITV, is clear.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace