The merger between the two dominant shareholders in ITV, Carlton Communications and Granada Media, moved one step nearer to consummation on Friday.
Trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt approved the terms thrashed out between the duo, the regional TV stations -- minority shareholders in ITV but independent of the merger -- and advertisers.
The terms are designed to ensure that there is no abuse of market dominance by the ITV duo who between them will control over fifty per cent of Britain's TV adspend.
"Accepting these undertakings paves the way for a stronger, more effective ITV, which will be well placed to respond to the many challenges of today's broadcasting environment," expatiated secretary Hewitt, never averse to a cliché or three.
The main terms agreed are …
• ITV will roll over existing ad rates for advertisers, safeguarding against price inflation.
• The appointment of an independent advertising 'ombudsman' to mediate in disputes between ITV, advertisers and agencies.
• Guarantees of fair treatment to the other ITV licensees -- Scottish TV, Grampian TV, Ulster TV and Channel TV -- which between them own 8% of the network.
Separately, ITV's six non-executive directors have retained The Zygos Partnership, a London-based search agency, to produce a shortlist of candidates for the ITV chair, unwillingly vacated last month by Carlton boss Michael Green [WAMN: 23-Oct-03].
Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff