A sigh of relief has been exhaled by ISBA (the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers) and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, both vehement opponents of the planned £2.7 billion ($4.31bn; €3.91bn) merger between Carlton Communications and Granada Media, the two dominant shareholders in the ITV network.

In an announcement Tuesday, trade and industry secretary Patrician Hewitt said that on advice from the Office of Fair Trading, she had referred the merger to the Competition Commission as the union would “greatly increase concentration in TV advertising, leaving one firm with more than half of total national TV advertising revenues”.

Few will be surprised at the decision, least of all the two protagonists who (say insiders) would have been “flabbergasted” had their marriage had gone though unopposed.

The Competition Commission is expected to announce its decision by June 25.

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