Elstein Cosies-Up to US Conglomerate in ITV Bid Manoeuvre

12 September 2003

According to a report in Broadcast magazine, former Five boss David Elstein has enjoyed some success in touting his scheme to bid for and restructure ITV.

Elstein and cohorts Richard Brooke and Damien Harte, respectively ex-finance directors of BSkyB and Five, have been involved discussions with Kansas City-headquartered greetings-cards-to-entertainment conglomerate Hallmark. The latter, it seems, has run the Elstein proposition through its abacus and likes the resultant numbers.

Hallmark, big though it is, is small fry on the UK television scene where its sole operation is the Hallmark Channel, broadcasting a recycled diet of US cops 'n robbers fodder.

The nature and value of any support Hallmark might offer the Elstein team is unspecified. As is the US giant’s reaction to Elstein’s boast that he can trim a cool £100 million from ITV’s costs – if only someone will cough up the purchase price.

Joel Denton, president of distribution and production at Hallmark Entertainment, conceded that his company had run the sliderule over ITV, but is biding its time because of the rise in the share prices of ITV’s two dominant shareholders Carlton Communications and Granada Media.

Meantime, the UK Department of Trade and Industry is still mulling whether or not to greenlight the planned merger between Carlton and Granada. Following a string of delays, a decision is expected early in October.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff