OFT Poised to Deliver ITV Merger Verdict This Week

10 March 2003

Britain's Office of Fair Trading will this week announce whether it has decided to refer to the Competition Commission the proposed £2.7 billion ($4.31bn; €3.91bn) merger between the nation’s two largest TV broadcasters and dominant ITV shareholders, Carlton Communications and Granada Media.

Although there is no fixed date by which an OFT ruling becomes public, custom and practice is that the Department of Trade & Industry reveals the OFT’s verdict within six working days of receiving its report. The tome was delivered to the DTI on 28 February, making today (Monday) the likely date.

Few, including the would-be consorts, expect to be given the green light by the OFT and the broadcasters are reportedly resigned to month of labyrinthine pondering over the key issues of TV advertising market share and the number of sales houses representing a merged ITV.

The latter is a particularly hot potato, both for the ITV duo and advertisers and agencies. The latter fears that a single sales organization will place negotiating supremacy in the hands of the broadcasters; while the ITV companies see the unification of their existing sales houses as the route to achieving £20m in annual cost savings.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff