BBC Chairman Bland Horns-In on Granada Row

28 June 2001

Sir Christopher Bland, currently spreading his posterior across two chairs – those of the British Broadcasting Corporation and British Telecom – yesterday found time to castigate the chief executive of Granada Media for trying to persuade the UK government that Granada should be vaccinated against possible foreign takeover.

Bland, addressing the annual dinner of the Media Society in London, opined that Granada’s Charles Allen should “keep his mouth shut”.

The reference was to Allen’s leaked letter to Prime Minister Blair, claiming that Granada would be vulnerable to foreign takeover if the government delays liberalisation of media ownership laws, enactment of which would allow Granada to merge with Carlton Communications [WAMN: 26-Jun-01].

Bland found it “ironic that Granada should wish to establish for itself a takeover-free zone”, especially as London Weekend Television of which Bland was chair was itself subjected to a hostile takeover by Granada in 1994.

Bland also spared a few unkind words for the “Johnny-come-latelys” at Granada and Carlton for their public breast-beating over the current slowdown in TV advertising revenues. The downturn, he said, is “not permanent” and the ITV duo instead should concentrate on resolving some of their “considerable problems”.

News source: Financial Times