Proving that the course of true love never did run smooth, the relationship between Carlton Communications and Granada Media – the two dominant shareholders in British commercial network ITV – is reportedly on the rocks over the timing of their long-awaited nuptials.

The duo plan to merge once legal barriers have been lifted by the government’s forthcoming Communications Bill. Indeed, so ardent is their mutual fervour that they last week unveiled a united marketing and programming operation, prompting accusations from advertisers and agencies of a ‘back-door’ marriage [WAMN: 20-Aug-02].

However, Granada chairman Charles Allen is said to be angered by comments from Gerry Murphy, ceo at Carlton, that the wedding should be put off for three years until regulatory obstacles are removed. Allen believes there would be no such hurdles.

The two are also at odds over smaller ITV franchisee Scottish Media Group. Granada holds a 29% stake in SMG, and is said to be unhappy at attempts by Carlton to buy the group’s ITV licences.

What the tiff means for any future working relationship between the two chief executives remains to be seen.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff