UK TV Channels Drop Merger Talks

18 November 2004

Merger talks between two of the UK's national terrestrial TV broadcasters have been called off and the idea shelved.

State-owned Channel 4 and commercial station Five have spent twelve months in negotiations but have finally rejected full scale merger, citing irreconcilable differences.

Both companies are searching for cash injections. Channel Four, with its uneasy balancing act between public service remit and commercial funding, is now expected to pursue the government money route, favoured by ceo (and former BBC marketing director) Andy Duncan.

He says: "With concerns being raised about our future funding it was legitimate for Channel 4 to explore this merger, but we've concluded that protecting and strengthening Channel 4's public service role isn't compatible with the full merger that was proposed."

A disappointed Five comments: "Although the benefits of a merger would have been significant, the shareholders of Five have come to the conclusion that the complexity of combining a commercial and a publicly owned entity, and the constraints on the likely structure, would have been too great, and have therefore ended the discussions."

Five, a unit of Bertelsmann-owned RTL Group, Europe's largest commercial broadcaster, and UK-based United Business Media, is still optimistic over exploring certain joint ventures with Channel Four.

Continues the station's spokesman: "We're still going to look at possible strategic partnerships."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff