ITV's Grade Stalks Overseas TV Production Unit

09 March 2007

LONDON: Meeting with analysts and investors earlier this week, ITV's new executive chairman Michael Grade confided his "first impressions" after fifty-eight days at the helm of the ailing giant. One idea floated to the assembled moneymen was the acquisition of foreign TV production companies.

"We may be interested in bolt-on acquisitions to increase our overseas presence," Grade said, although he remained schtum as to whether his intended prey was Endemol, the Netherlands-based creator of international ratings runaway Big Brother.

He also highlighted the need to improve scheduling at the broadcaster's flagship ITV1 channel and relax the irksome regulatory regime to which that channel is currently subject.

The latter was almosty certainly a reference to the Contracts Rights Renewal mechanism, a framework for advertising rates imposed as a condition of the 2004 merger between Granada and Carlton Communications.

Asked about the 17.9% 'spoiling stake' in ITV, grabbed earlier this year by NewsCorp-controlled BSkyB, Grade conceded it could "potentially create an issue", as it conferred on Sky the ability to block deals requiring 75% investor approval.

Sky's holding could be pivotal because not all shareholders voted on such issues, Grade explained.

Data sourced from The Times (UK); additional content by WARC staff