In a somewhat bizarre benediction, Greg Dyke, director-general of the BBC, has reportedly informed the Competition Commission that the state broadcasting corporation has no objection to the proposed £9 billion merger of its commercial rivals, Carlton Communications and United News & Media.

The Commission is expected to submit its report and recommendations this Friday to trade secretary Stephen Byers, who will mull matters for around about three weeks before announcing his decision. A merged Carlton and United would control some 35% of Britain's TV advertising market - well above the current limit of 20%.

But assuming a thumbs-up from secretary Byers, Granada Media is poised to make a counter-bid either for Carlton or United. Analysts predict that the resulting free-for-all could lead to the creation of a single ITV broadcaster.

News source: The Times (London)