ISBA (the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers) has agreed to meet with senior representatives from Carlton Communications and Granada Media to listen to the duo’s case for merger – a mooted marriage to which ISBA and its members have long objected.

Advertisers and agencies strongly oppose a single unified ITV company – to which a merger of the dominant pair would inevitably lead. But Carlton and Granada argue that only as a single entity can ITV counter growing competition from BSkyB and a ratings-obsessed BBC.

But advertisers fear this would stifle competition and lead to higher airtime rates. They prefer the highly fragmented status quo in which media buyers negotiate separately for airtime at each of the twelve regional ITV franchises, consolidated into five individual contractors, each represented by one of three sales houses.

Nonetheless, ISBA has agreed to hear the case for merger. Says director of media and advertising affairs Bob Wootton: “Carlton and Granada regularly assert that a single ITV would be in the interests of UK advertisers. However, they have so far failed to make the case clearly and persuasively directly to advertisers.”

Continues Wootton, “We hope these discussions will give ITV a platform to present clear evidence of exactly how advertisers would benefit from further consolidation, and to clarify what they would be prepared to undertake to ensure that competition in the airtime market was safeguarded following consolidation.”

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff