ISBA Slams ITV Duo as ‘Pygmies’; Merger as ‘Escape Plan’

06 December 2002

ISBA (the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers) has again declared its vehement opposition to the planned £2.6 billion ($4.09bn; €4.08bn) merger between Carlton Communications and Granada Media, dismissing the union as an “escape plan” for Carlton directors.

ISBA director of media and advertising sales Bob Wootton did not mince his words. He branded the merger “a disaster for the customer” and nothing more than a career lifeboat for senior executives at Carlton, the smaller of the betrothed companies.

At a panel discussion convened by media shop Starcom Motive, Wootton went for the jugular: “In the global media market Carlton and Granada are pygmies – and bringing them together will create a slightly taller pygmy. In the long term this is about an escape plan for Carlton executives and the onward sale of ITV.”

Approval of the merger by UK competition authorities is “extremely likely”, Wootton admitted – but the companies’ intention to merge their respective sales operations into a single entity will be fought by advertisers every inch of the way.

Charles Allen [Granada’s chairman] has made it clear he is going for broke on this one; he is looking for a single ITV with one sales house. Advertisers will not support that,” affirmed Wootton in Churchillian stance.

ISBA is not alone in its opposition to the union. Procter & Gamble, the globe’s largest advertiser has threatened to pull its advertising from ITV if the deal goes ahead; while smaller terrestrial TV rivals Channel 4 and Five have also declared their enmity. As has UK ad agencies' body, the IPA.

The Office of Fair Trading has invited comment from interested parties with particular reference to “competition or public interest implications”. December 12 is the deadline for lodging submissions.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff