Britain's Top Adspend Duo to Speak Against ITV Merger

15 April 2003

Procter & Gamble and COI Communications (the administrative interface between the British government and its roster of advertising and marketing agencies), respectively the nation’s largest and second largest TV advertisers, will this week urge the Competition Commission to reject the proposed £2.4 billion ($3.76bn; €3.50bn) merger between Carlton Communications and Granada Media.

Between them, the two TV titans control the UK’s dominant ITV network and have agreed to merger their respective organisations – a move aggressively opposed by major advertisers, agencies and rival media.

Explains COI chief executive Colin Bishop: “We have a simple concern, which is that if a single ITV has a single sales company this would be against advertisers’ interest, not just because of ITV’s share but because of the very strong position they hold in the market.”

P&G has repeatedly stated its opposition to the merger, threatening to shift its business out of ITV. Said UK head of external relations Gary Cunningham last year: “If ITV were to merge, one would have to reconsider one's options. ITV is a very important way of reaching huge audiences quickly, so it is difficult to eliminate from the schedule. But yes, we would be more inclined to look elsewhere [WAMN: 15-Oct-03].”

Just cause and impediment to the marriage has also been declared by ISBA (the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers) which meets with the Commission today [Tuesday] to state its opposition in detail. And the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising will put a similar point of view on behalf of the nation’s agencies. Regulatory body, the Independent Television Commission is also due to give evidence this week.

The enquiry which was launched on March 11 is expected to continue until June 25.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff