The sale of one or another (or both) ad sales subsidiaries of Carlton Communications and Granada Media – the disposal of which is seen as a prerequisite for regulatory approval of their agreed merger – has been set in motion.

The most likely scenario, say ITV-watchers, is a management buyout led by Martin Bowley and Steve Platt, respectively chief executive, and managing director of Carlton Sales. This would operate independently of a sales organization directly owned by ITV plc, likely to be run by Bowley and Platt’s opposite numbers at Granada Enterprises, Graham Duff and Simon Pardon.

While such a cosy arrangement might satisfy competition regulators, the Independent Television Commission and the Competition Commission, it is unlikely to impress advertisers and agencies. The latter have already expressed scepticism that the fragile ‘Chinese Walls’ separating both sales organizations would shut-out the sound of whispered deals being struck.

ITV’s lips are tightly zipped on the subject. Meantime, an interesting rumour is going the rounds that rival broadcasters are holding defensive chats about the setting-up of a unified sales company representing all non-ITV interests.

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