In an imminent reversal of a forty-six year-old rule forbidding any one broadcaster from owning more than twenty per cent of ITN – the ITV Network’s news service – the UK government has opened the door to outright ownership of ITN by ITV’s dominant duo, Granada Media and Carlton Communications.

Few in the industry believe the U-turn to be a political coincidence, coming as ITN faces the first-ever challenge to its suzerainty over ITV’s news contract [WAMN: 01-Aug-01]. Rival bidder, Channel Three News, is a consortium led by Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB along with US news providers CBS and Bloomberg.

The possibility that Murdoch might be poised to increase his already large and unwelcome share of the UK media market is anathema to the government.

Currently, ITN has five shareholders: Granada and Carlton plus United Business Media, the Daily Mail & General Trust and Reuters. The latter pair have made no secret of their eagerness to exit from their investment; while Granada/Carlton have been equally forthcoming about their eagerness to take full control of ITN.

News source: CampaignLive (UK)