Aegis Group chief executive Doug Flynn on Tuesday accused Britain's Competition Commission of “fiddling around the edges” with the proposed merger between ITV’s controlling duo Carlton Communications and Granada Media .
Flynn was not wearing his ‘I Love ITV’ button when he spoke to The Guardian newspaper on Tuesday, accusing Britain's largest commercial broadcaster of “monopolistic” practices and averring that Russian TV is these days more ‘free’ than in the UK.
He also predicted – as do many media insiders – that the ITV merger will be greenlighted (with strings) by trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt, on whose desk the Competition Commission’s report now gathers dust.
But – unlike many media insiders – Flynn is not especially fazed by the mooted melding of Carlton and Granada’s respective sales houses, dismissing this steaming potato as “not all that important” and insisting there other matters more worthy of the secretary of state’s attention.
He urged Hewitt to focus on ITV’s “other monopolistic practices like charging newspapers to carry their TV listings and requiring media buyers to provide credit insurance, which no other broadcaster anywhere in the world does. These practices can only exist because of ITV's monopoly situation.”
Added Jeremy Hicks, Aegis finance director: “It means we are paying for two lots of insurance because we have to insure ITV and then we have to insure ourselves. That is not the case for radio or outdoor and it's not the case for any other country.”
The Department of Trade and Industry on Monday extended the twenty-day “target timetable” for ruling on the merger by a further ten days, which means that Hewitt will not now determine the issue until early October.
Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff